CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Senate appears poised to approve one of the most talked about bills of this legislative session. A final vote is scheduled Tuesday on the measure aimed at cutting down on meth labs.
The most controversial part of the bill is a provision that would require a doctor’s prescription to obtain cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in making meth.
Senators turned down two proposed amendments to the bill Monday while debating the pros and cons of the legislation for more than an hour.
“What this bill is about is making our neighborhoods safer,” Sen. Sam Cann, D-Harrison, said. “It’s about making crime investigations safer for our police forces.”
Senators said they know there is opposition to the plan from both the pharmaceutical lobby and state residents who don’t want to have to go to a doctor’s office to get a prescription for medicine like Claritin D or Sudafed. But Logan County Sen. Art Kirkendoll said lawmakers are being negligent if they don’t act.
“We already know what we are doing is not working, how can we be like that?”
Currently, sales of medications containing pseudoephedrine in West Virginia are limited and are tracked electronically, in real time, through the NPLEx system, National Precursor Log Exchange but some say that’s not enough.
Sen. Kirkendoll said he understands there may be consequences to his support of prescription only.
“I’ve got some who told me they wouldn’t vote for me in southern West Virginia if I supported Sudafed. I’ll just take my chances,” Kirkendoll said. “I would rather lose an election than know I passed a bill that saved a young man or young woman’s life.”
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association has provided the main opposition to the legislation. Senior Director Carlos Gutiérrez said senators have good intentions but their aim is wrong.
“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,” he said.
The Senate floor session begins at 11 a.m. Tuesday if the bill passes it will be forwarded to the House of Delegates.