Wednesday, October 30, 2013

West Virginia struggles with growing meth problem; some want limits on pseudoephedrine

With still two months left in 2013, law enforcement officers in West Virginia's Kanawha County have already seized a record number of methamphetamine labs. While the county and state struggle with a drug epidemic, pharmacists have their own struggles when it comes to shady-looking customers looking to purchase legal decongestants that are used to make meth, Eric Eyre reports for the Charleston Gazette. Pharmacist Donn Neurman told the county substance abuse task force, "We have the ability to challenge them, but it is very, very difficult. It's very difficult to block a sale."

Kanawha County, site of Charleston, easily leads the state in sales of a common cold and allergy medicine, pseudoephedrine, that is used to make methamphetamine, The Associated Press reports. Through July 29, 52,000 boxes had been sold in the county, 22 percent of all sales in the state. Thus, it's no surprise that 56 percent of all meth labs seized in the state were in the county. Through Aug. 7, the state’s National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx system, a real-time tracking system for pseudoephedrine sales, has blocked the illegal sale of 9,965 boxes sold, but 236,033 boxes were sold overall, and there have been more than 300 meth-lab busts during the year, with 103 in Kanawha County, Zack Harold reports for the Charleston Daily Mail.

Some states have enacted limits on pseudoephedrine purchases or required prescriptions. Neurman, who serves on the task force, "recommended legislation that would require a prescription for Sudafed 12 Hour and 24 Hour, Claritin-D 24 Hour and Allegra-D 24 Hour," Eyre writes. "Other medications that contain pseudoephedrine in lower concentrations, such as Sudafed 4 Hour, should continue to be made available without a prescription, he said.. He suggested that pharmacies be required to post large signs that alert people that they could face fines and criminal penalties if they misuse pseudoephedrine." Another task force member, Bridget Lambert, "suggested that West Virginia set up a 'meth offender registry' that would block people from purchasing the cold medication if they're convicted of meth-related crimes. (Read more)

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