(03/04/2014)
By Bob Weaver

The meth epidemic is wide-spread in the Mountain State, and a bill to restrict the sale of some over-the-counter cold medicines is resting in the WV House of Delegates.

The pharmaceutical industry has mounted a media blitz against the bill, requiring prescriptions for some cold medicines used in the manufacture of meth.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is warning customers they would face higher costs and have less purchasing freedom if the bill passes.

The legislature declined to pass such a bill last year, after heavy lobbying by the pharmacy companies, claiming the bill would cost WV consumers millions of dollars.

The lobbying group has paid for Internet and radio ads and a study on Pseudoephedrine-based products, like Sudafed and Claritin D, that are being used illegally to make methamphetamine.

The bill allows for the over-the-counter sale of tamper-proof pills that can't be "cooked" into meth.

Authorities busted 533 West Virginia meth labs last year. That is almost twice as many as 2012. Labs were found in 45 of 55 counties.

UPDATE: METH BUSTS INCREASE 85% IN MOUNTAIN STATE - Calhoun Has Four Busts In 2013

Several years ago, Big Pharma convinced the West Virginia legislature that a bill to obtain lower prices for prescriptions for Mountain State residents was not needed, the state wanting to sign on to a federal drug purchase registry.

Big Pharma, in lieu of the bill, set up a web site to help West Virginians get lower prescription rates.

It faded quickly.

Now, the electronic tracking system NPLEx, paid for by Big Pharma, that was supposed to slow the spread of methamphetamine labs in West Virginia by blocking purchases of the cold medicines that fuel the labs is failing, according to data obtained by the Sunday Gazette-Mail.

The number of boxes of the cold medicine blocked by NPLEx has declined 72 percent, according to the data. The drug users have figured out how to beat the system.

See Cold medication sales blocked by NPLEx plummet 72% by Eric Eyre for the Charleston Gazette

Meanwhile, a bill passed by the WV House and resting in the WV Senate, that would forbid Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a former pharmaceutical lobbyist, to touch state lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.


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