Sales of decongestants with pseudoephedrine have dropped 30 percent in West Virginia in 2014, and the biggest drop is 60 percent in Kanawha County, which last year accounted for nearly one-fourth of all pseudoephedrine sales and more than 50 percent of all meth lab busts in the state. "Kanawha County law enforcement officers have attributed the drop to an increase in the local availability of meth manufactured in Mexico," Eyre writes. "Also, some Kanawha pharmacies are now selling only tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products, such as Nexafed and Zephrex-D, which can’t easily be converted to meth." A pair of West Virginia counties south of Kanawha have been the focus of documentaries about the meth crisis.
NPLEx, which has been used in the state since January 2013, "was designed to block illegal purchases when people try to buy more than 7.2 grams of pseudoephedrine a month, or 48 grams a year—about 20 boxes," Eyre writes. "However, NPLEx data show that the system is blocking fewer purchases in West Virginia this year. The number of blocked pseudoephedrine purchases has dropped 40 percent statewide and 85 percent in Kanawha County—a decline that’s outpacing the decrease in sales." Dr. Dan Foster, who heads a Kanawha County task force that’s investigating the meth lab problem, told Eyre, “It would certainly be a stretch to assume this means NPLEx is working.”
The state Senate passed a bill earlier this year "that would have required people to get a doctor’s prescription before they could buy pseudoephedrine," Eyre writes. "The House of Delegates gutted the bill, and the legislation died the last night of the session after the House missed a deadline to file a proposed compromise agreement." Mississippi and Oregon are the only states that have passed prescription laws, and pseudoephedrine sales in those states are reportedly down 80 percent since the laws went into effect. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a meth bill that has been sitting on his desk for two months. (Read more)