The Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources was the first to take action on Senate Bill 6 Tuesday, regulating the sale of drug products used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
- Requires medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in manufacturing meth, be made a Schedule IV controlled substance available only by prescription
- Provides medicines classified as tamper resistant, forms of the medication that make it more difficult to remove the needed drug when making meth, be available over-the-counter
- Places purview over determining tamper resistant drugs to the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy
- Sets forth criminal penalties for anyone who purchase, receive or posses a drug.
Proponents of the bill say making pseudoephedrine prescription only will reduce the number of meth labs in West Virginia. That number in 2012 jumped form 288 to 533 seized by law enforcement.
David Potters with the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy testified before the committee in both Oregon and Mississippi, the only two state with prescription only laws, they are seeing a drastic decrease in labs.
“My understanding of the impact in Oregon is that when they went prescription only their labs went down from high double digits and higher down to 10, 11, 12 a year and has gone down from there,” Potters said. “Mississippi was much higher and has gone down 80-some percent down into the 60s and is still going down.”
But there is strong opposition to the bill by the pharmaceutical industry. Its lobbyists maintain prescription only is not the way to go.
Instead, they believe lawmakers should be focused on creating a meth offender registry like Kentucky and Oklahoma have done, barring the purchase of pseudoephedrine for anyone convicted of a meth related crime.
“The best way to address this is to address the meth criminal, not the citizen in West Virginia who relies on pseudoephedrine as a common over the counter cold remedy,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association.
Lambert also expressed concerns that the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy having more authority than the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in the state.
The committee voted, on party lines, to move the bill forward with recommendation for passage. The bill now heads to Senate Judiciary.