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.








bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Jenn

    I'm not sure how effective such a law will be in a relatively small state which is surrounded by states where the product will still be available over the counter. In much of the state, the dealers won't have to travel far to get pseudoephedrine and set up meth labs in the border counties.

  • Independent View

    If one wishes to create a societal problem then, either make it illegal or difficult to get!

  • Aussie01

    Why do the people in charge keep hurting the law abiding citizens for the few who break the law? If this law passes, it will cost be at least $40 for what was over the counter medicine.

    Another reason to vote all the incumbents out of office.

  • Ryan

    Let me start by saying that unlike many people who comment on websites and write letters to the editor, I do not work for the cold medicine industry.

    This industry statement "would impose significant burdens and higher healthcare costs on thousands of law-abiding West Virginia families" is the situation NOW. Law-abiding West Virginians are paying to clean up the meth labs, paying for the kids in foster care and paying for the burn units where kids are treated. We pay, the industry makes money. They don't care AT ALL if we pay, they care about their own profits and nothing else.

  • mdgold

    Meth makers will find other ways to make meth except with more dangerous ingredients. Tax payers will be burdened with having to take care of their medical needs after they destroy their bodies.

    • WVPharmacist

      If you know organic chemistry, you can make meth. Getting raw ingredients to do so is extremely difficult since 9-11. Purchasing any quantity of certain chemicals requires proof of credentials and you should still expect a knock on the door by the ATF or DEA or Homeland Security.

      Will this bill stop all meth in WV. Absolutely NOT.

      Will it (potentially) help to stop diversion and decrease the number of meth labs? Well, we went from unregulated to implementing a tracking system in 2006. The tracking system didn't work. This is the next, an extremely overdue, next step.

  • WVPharmacist

    I worked in retail chain pharmacy for 20+ years. I have seen the lines of meth makers forming immediately after a shipment arrives. It's disgusting.

    Retail pharmacies make MORE money with over the counter sales. In fact, 50% of the cost is straight profit. If it is a prescription, they will only make $1-2. That is why companies like Rite Aid have (on the record) strongly opposed any and every previous attempt to make this drug have prescription status. It cuts into their profits.

    Personally, I believe doctors offices will more than likely assess the need and abuse potential in a case by case basis, but I suspect that they will not have a problem calling in scripts for patients whom they know and treat.

    This bill makes it difficult for the people who travel from Kentucky and Ohio to purchase in WV, unless they have a script. "Tracking" programs are useless. Meth makers pay others to purchase products for them. It has been documented as a significant problem in California, as well as other states, for years.

    Everyone who is bashing this bill needs to remember, meth is NOT like marijuana or cocaine... It is not grown. It is made. It takes one (1) hour to turn pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine. It doesn't take a lab. It doesn't take any source of heat. People make it in backpacks, portion it out, and sell it. From purchase to having sold it all can happen in as little as two hours.

    Simply put, meth kills. A law requiring a prescription means no more having to have your drivers license and all the info it contains (and yes, currently every piece of info is recorded and put into a database) and regularly given to the police. Instead, it would go into the Board of Pharmacy's database, compiled, and just as with all other controlled substances in this state, only if certain criteria are met would your information be flagged. (i.e. Going to three doctors on the same day to get the same medication AND getting all three scripts filled at different pharmacies that day.) Sound incredibly unlikely that anyone would do that? It's not. Happens every week.

    Did a "few people" mess up and "get everyone punished"? NO.

    Did lot of corporations turned a blind eye in leu of profits? Did the public get misinformed by the corporations dumping money into lobbyists pockets? Was the media mislead as to just how wide spread a problem meth really is?

    One last point... Retail pharmacists have routinely been disciplined or even fired if they speak out in favor of prescription only status. This is a huge problem because with three pharmacy schools pumping out pharmacists, jobs are few and far between. In 2006, a pharmacist could stand their ground. Now, pharmacists are seen as disposable by corporations.

    • Red Dwarf

      Simple. Quit punishing the majority of innocent, law abiding people for the minority.

      Do you go this overboard over cigarettes or alcohol which doesn't need a prescription? I think not.

    • Aaron

      The problem with that assessment is that the facts do not back you up. In Oregon, which has the strictest ban nationwide, tracking is what is given credit for reducing the number of labs, not the ban.

      In fact, numbers have shown that not only did the ban fail as meth is STILL readily available in Oregon, it is skyrocketed the cost for patients who truly need the product.

      Instead of passing a bill based on anecdotal evidence, our legislature needs to look at the facts and base a bill on those. If they do, the Senate will defeat this bill.

      • Jason412

        There's a huge difference between meth being available through Mexican sources and meth labs.

        Oregon went from 232 labs in 2005 to 67 in 2006. Mississippi went from 937 labs in 2010 to 321 in 2011, the year they passed the law.

        This is not intended to eradicate meth, it's to stop the labs.

        • Aaron

          I've posted a couple of links detailing what I said above. Part of the reason support for a WV prescription requirement is gaining traction is incorrect information like what you've posed above Jason. Research the topic and see for yourself.

          • Aaron

            I haven't honestly looked at Mississippi'a law because the only information I see is put out by the state of Mississippi.

            I have researched Oregon's law although it's been a year or so ago, and everything it's set for the information put out from the state indicates that the decline and math labs occurred before the law went into effect. Surrounding states also saw similar declines in the number of their meth labs as well.

            While there have small reductions that can be attributed to the ban, I don't believe that it's worth the increased cost of a product that is primarily used by law-abiding citizens.

            But then I'm big on civil rights and minimal government intrusion into our daily lives. I think if the government could do if they truly want to address our drug problem. the best thing they can do is legalize drugs and stop wasting money policing, prosecuting and jailing individuals for personal choices.

            Imagine what we as a society to do with the billions we spend on the failed war on drugs.

          • Jason412

            You focus on Oregon, but Mississippi has a very similar law.

            While it's true Oregon's seizures were on the decline before the law taking place, Mississippi's certainly were not and had been increasing until the law took effect.

            "Oregon's bill did not take place until 2006, well after the reduction of meth labs. " Oregon's seizures weren't below 200 until 2006, the year the law took effect they dropped to 67. In 2011, Oregon only had 11 lab seizures. One article I read quoted an Oregon DA as saying the state had seen a 96% decrease in labs seized, and a 32% decrease in meth related arrests since 2006.

            Mississippi had 440 in 2008, 960 in 2009, 937 in 2011, and 321 in 2011 the year the law was passed. I find it hard to believe a 67% decrease in a single year had nothing to do with it becoming prescription only.

            If tracking was the solution WV wouldn't of seen an 85% increase in seizures in 2013.

            When you say meth is "still readily available" in Oregon, are you accounting for the fact Oregon has one of the most established Mexican drug trafficking pipelines in the US? I'm sure no one expected pseudoephedrine being prescription only to stop Mexican drug trafficking, as that would be an unreasonable expectation.

            I don't see how the information I posted was incorrect as the seizure numbers are from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

            Regardless, this isn't something I have enough interest in to continue to debate so when you respond I will read it and leave it at that.

        • Aaron

          Oregon's bill did not take place until 2006, well after the reduction of meth labs.

          The prescription requirement is not responsible for the decline of labs, increased enforcement and tracking individuals is.

          The only think experts agree that Oregon's prescription requirement is responsible for is increasing the price of the medicine.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Because prescriptions work so well in stopping the abuse Oxycodone.

    • WVPharmacist

      OxyContin is a good drug, and when used correctly improves quality of life for patients.

      With that said, abuse and diversion are more than a problem. PerduePharma (makers if OxyContin, have opted to make it "harder to misuse" instead of changing the formulation to something that is in a form that can not be abused. I'm not sure if it is a matter of fear of lost sales, (if you can't smoke it, demand decreases) or if it is a absolute refusal to see it's still the choice drug of abuse.

      Obviously, making it non-prescription would be the dumbest thing ever... But did you know that pseudoephedrine used to be prescription only? When cocaine and crack hit the market, nobody foresaw that meth would be an issue, so why regulate it? With the overall success of making crack harder to get, people turned to meth. Then, someone figured out how to make it without heat or without the risk of explosions.

      Can't put the genie back in the bottle, so it's time to take the bottle away. Again.

  • Damion45

    Once again those who obey the law are punished.
    But I guess they feel good now they are doing something, no matter how ineffective and intrusive.

    • RedGal

      Unfortunately there were several amendments to this bill presented by the minority party that weren't even considered. These would have provided more efficient tracking, a meth offender registry and the ability for law abiding citizens who truly need the product to still obtain it without a prescription. However, these weren't even given consideration when presented to the "powers that be" who are and have been intent on making this medicine prescription only.

  • WV Worker

    Wonder what Dr's group came up with this idea. We have prescription abuse now for hard drugs and now they have handed the users prescription pad again. Who is benefiting from this law., Dr's, drug stores, makers of the drugs, all the above, who is losers , the people who need the meds and can't afford to go to the dr every time they get a cold or sinus headache. The government and especially PEIA scream we spent too much for meds look what we have to do now. The only way to stop this abuse not only for drugs but child abuse and other crimes get tougher laws. Don't let them sit in jail but their assess out on a chain gang. Make them work while in jail, cut weeds, build walls, clean out the creeks so they don't flood the communities, MAKE THEM DO SOMETHING FOR THEIR CRIME not but them in a jail cell with tv, meals and a better life than working people have. MAKE THEM WEAR THE STRIP SUITS, CHAINS ON ANKLES AND WORKING AT DIGGING DUTCHES Maybe if they get laughed at, made fun of, they will change. At least we get something out of them.

  • Larry

    The only way to really solve this meth problem is the eradication of the addicts.

    • Harpers Ferry

      Adolf Hitler? Is that you?

  • Teufel

    Sounds like they are saying that all they have to do is pass this law and the states meth problem is over...... Politicians are a bunch of delusional lunatics. next they will think they can control the weather,

  • Carmella

    Crime will go up...meth dealers will be breaking into home to look for prescription drugs now...ugh!

    • Pickle Barrel

      No difference from now. The meth heads are breaking into houses looking for valuables to sell and get cash.

    • Teufel

      I agree the law will strengthen the black market sale of pseudo. Not to mention making it more difficult for legitimate use...

      • Alum

        It's already difficult for legitimate use. Obviously you have never run up against the limits the DEA has set for purchasing allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

        I'm all for it; honest people will then be able to get what they need and when they need it.

        Solution to meth labs: after conviction and appeals are depleted, the guilty get to consume everything that was seized from the lab at the time of the arrest. If you live, you walk. If not, well then...

  • Aaron

    Oregon has had a similar law since 2006 and claim it is working but the evidence suggest otherwise.

    While it is true that meth labs dropped in Oregon, 90% of the reduction was prior to the law taking effect and 6 states in the west saw similar reductions in meth labs.

    Despite the law, meth is still readily available in Oregon. If West Virginia lawmakers pass this law, they will do so out of ignorance as the facts do not support the contention that this law will reduce the availability of meth.

  • Blugldmn

    Bad bill for people who are not criminals.
    And it won't stop people from making meth.
    Police just want to get back to writing speeding tickets it's what they do most.

  • Kim Johnson

    I hope the bill passes. I have Asthma complcated by allergies. When I can find Allegra D I feel so much better and have fewer flare ups. The problem is, stores can't keep it. By the time I get to a pharmacy, they are sold out. The new medications on the market they say can't be converted to meth, also don't work on my allergies. It's sad that sick people have to compete with criminals for medication. I have to sleep, I can't travel from pharmacy to pharmacy to be there when they get a new 'shipment'.

    • JD R

      And those of bus who lost our health insurance cant afford to see a doctor to get a prescription every time we have allergy problems. This is a terrible law punishing those who don't break the law.