Sen. Greg Tucker (D-Nicholas) announced he will introduce a bill during the upcoming session of the West Virginia Legislature that will require a prescription for any drugs that can be used to manufacture methamphetamines. Tucker said his bill would allow for the over-the-counter sale of drugs whose component parts cannot be broken down for the manufacture of meth.
“Fruth Pharmacy, a West Virginia business, has said it will no longer sell products containing pseudoephedrine—known commercially as Sudafed-- one of the principal components used in the illicit production of methamphetamines,” Tucker said.
Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of Fruth Pharmacy, said at a news conference last week that over-the-counter products containing Sudafed would be replaced with a new tamper-resistant product called Nexafed.
“It’s disgusting and frightening to see daily news stories of people being arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine,” said Tucker. “You would be hard pressed to find a family in West Virginia which has not had a member directly impacted, or who knows someone directly impacted by this drug plague. While we often see pictures of their drug-ravaged faces, we don’t see the young children often present in the locations where the meth is being cooked,” Tucker added.
Tucker said these children are generally put in the custody of Child Protective Services within the Department of Health and Human Resources.
“A recent legislative audit showed CPS has some serious problems,” Tucker said. “An influx of children needing services because their parents are arrested for cooking meth is only adding to the problem.”
Tucker said legislation passed last year by the legislature requiring pseudoephedrine sales be reported to the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy in real time may have slowed the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine but has not addressed the state’s methamphetamine drug problem.
“The number of arrests for manufacturing meth has doubled in the past year and continues to multiply,” Tucker said. “Mississippi required a prescription for pseudoephedrine products, and meth lab busts dropped by 67 percent according to news reports,” Tucker said. “There will still be problems, but prescription pseudoephedrine in West Virginia is a step we have to take to stop this plague and to win back our reputation as a state with reliable workers who want good jobs to provide for their families.”
Under the provisions of Tucker’s bill, only products deemed by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy “not feasible for the manufacture of methamphetamine” could be sold without a prescription. Additionally, the bill will make smurfing a crime.
Tucker was opposed to similar legislation in 2011 believing at that time that the requirements would only prevent legitimate users of Sudafed from having access to the drug. However, with the development of the new tamper resistant drugs such as Nexafed, legitimate users now have alternative drugs available to them which will not require a prescription under this bill.