Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bill requiring prescription for meth ingredient advances in W.Va.; Tenn. governor has limits bill

Methamphetamine is a growing problem in West Virginia, so its Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to require a prescription to buy cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredients in making meth, Eric Eyre reports for The Charleston Gazette.  (Gazette illustration, for its series in December on the state's meth problem)

Oregon and Mississippi are the only states with such laws. A bill for one in Indiana died this month. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a bill to limit the amount on pseudoephedrine that could be bought without a prescription, more than any other state. His administration has said the state leads the nation in meth use.

In West Virginia, Republican senators unsuccessfully sought an amendment to allow state residents to "buy pseudoephedrine in neighboring states and keep small quantities of the cold medication at home," Eyre writes. The Senate is expected to pass the bill, but its House chances remain unclear.

The over-the-counter drug industry strongly opposes such laws, saying it will raise health-care costs and inconvenience people needing medicine. Carlos GutiƩrrez, a lobbyist for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, told Eyre, "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."

Last year in West Virginia 533 meth labs were seized, up from 287 in 2012, Eyre writes. Kanawha County, which lies in the center of the state, and has the state's third largest population, including the state capital of Charleston, easily leads the state in meth lab busts. Local Republican Sen. Chris Walters opposes the bill, saying the solution is a "meth offender registry" that would bar people convicted of drug crimes from buying pseudoephedrine. Meth makers typically use others, called "smurfs," to buy ingredients for them. (Read more)

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