January 30, 2015

More must be done to reduce the illicit sale of pseudoephedrine | Times West Virginian

Meth is a problem in West Virginia.

And while the vast majority of the drug comes to the state through Mexico, small meth labs are being found throughout the state and even here in Marion County.

It is a very dangerous drug to use, and its effect on the body is permanent and often deadly. And it’s dangerous to make in laboratories, much less homes and garages where it is done right here in Marion County. It produces poison, making the structure where it was “cooked” uninhabitable until it is properly cleaned by authorities. And unfortunately, it is happening right now in homes across the county, and the “chefs” are exposing the people living in their home, including children and seniors, to these toxic chemicals.

Making the drug less accessible isn’t that hard. Just ask officials in Oregon and Mississippi. In these states, laws were passed that reclassified pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient in meth, as a controlled substance. In both states, police report that the number of meth lab seizures have plummeted.

Essentially, a reclassification would require a customer to have a doctor’s prescription in order to purchase a product containing pseudoephedrine. Last year, the Legislature came very close to passing a bill that would do the same in West Virginia, a measure that is supported by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy. But it doesn’t appear as if the GOP-controlled House of Delegates or state Senate is at all interested in taking up a similar measure.

But U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is strongly urging state lawmakers to take up the issue and make meth harder to produce in the Mountain State. In a letter to each and every lawmaker, Manchin stressed that “though we have seen progress in the effort to reduce the illicit sale of pseudoephedrine and meth production in West Virginia, more must be done. The state Legislature needs to act or we will continue to see domestic meth production devastate our state.

“Too many West Virginians have struggled with addiction, too many families have been torn apart, and too many lives have been lost to these substances,” the senator wrote. “It is past time that we take strong, direct action to stop this cycle of abuse.

“Requiring individuals to have a prescription to purchase medications containing pseudoephedrine would not only keep it out of the hands of those who use it to make meth, it also addresses the concerns of medical professionals who believe that many Americans should only take these products under the supervision of a doctor,” Manchin said.

We couldn’t agree more, Sen. Manchin.

Those who have a legitimate need for such medications more than likely have a relationship with a doctor’s office that would make getting a prescription no issue at all. And what we have found is that many over-the-counter drug companies are actually developing medicines that are just as effective as pseudoephedrine without the dangerous drug-making capabilities.

This issue is one that really needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later. We do not believe this measure needs to wait another year.

By:  Editorial