CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The bill that would require a doctor’s prescription for some cold medicines is headed to the state Senate following passage Wednesday night by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Committee members sent the bill to the full Senate following more than two hours of discussion in which Harrison County Senator Sam Cann became emotional after hearing a Charleston police officer describe the state’s meth problem.
Cann opposed the law a year ago but told Lt. Chad Napier his position had changed.
“I know what this stuff does,” Cann said, choking back tears. “If we do this, this helps you?”
“It helps law enforcement tremendously,” Napier said.
The officer spent several minutes describing how residents buy cold medicines, break them down and make meth. Instead of responding to dozens of meth labs a year, Napier said officers could spend more time fighting prescription drug abuse and heroine—things that “are killing our kids.”
The bill would require those wanting cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine—like Claritin-D, Advil Cold & Sinus and Sudafed—to get a prescription from a doctor.
“I can tell you a year ago I didn’t think this was a smart thing to do. But based on our discussion today there’s no doubt in my mind,” Cann said.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association released a statement after the committee’s vote:
“We are very disappointed that certain members of the West Virginia Senate have decided to cast a vote in favor of legislation that would impose significant burdens and higher healthcare costs on thousands of law-abiding West Virginia families,” said Carlos Gutiérrez, senior director and head of state government affairs for CHPA. “In addition to the serious burdens and costs associated it, there is also little evidence that the proposal would address the actual causes of the meth problem, particularly when one considers the serious prescription drug problem in the state and the prevalence of Mexican-made meth across the country. While we certainly commend the legislature for taking action to address the meth problem, we urge them to focus on solutions that target criminals, not honest West Virginia families.”
If the bill stays on schedule it could be up for final reading in the Senate next Monday.