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Kroger disappoints Manchin on meth

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin wants the Kroger supermarket chain to take tougher steps to limit the sale of cold medications that fuel illegal methamphetamine labs in West Virginia.

On Monday, Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was “extremely disappointed” that Kroger didn’t follow the lead of some competitors that barred sales of cold medicines that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient.

Meth cooks typically prefer the single-ingredient products, such as Sudafed 24 Hour, because they’re cheaper and yield potent meth without byproducts.

“I am so disappointed that Kroger has failed to address this [meth lab] problem proactively by refusing to terminate sales of the cold medicines most frequently used to make meth,” Manchin said. “I truly hope Kroger reconsiders its decision.”

Kroger notified the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy last week that it plans to tighten monthly purchase limits of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, but the company said it wouldn’t stop selling the single-ingredient products because they’re a “legal and effective medication.” Kroger’s decision followed talks with Manchin’s office earlier this summer.

Kroger has 40 stores with pharmacies in West Virginia.

“We seriously considered all of Senator Manchin’s requests. However, we respectfully disagree that it is necessary to entirely ban single-ingredient [pseudoephedrine] medicines,” Kroger spokesman Carl York said Monday. “We believe that would hurt law-abiding West Virginia families who need this legal medicine to control their symptoms from allergies and respiratory infections.”

Manchin noted that West Virginia consumers still can buy tamper-resistant products, such as Nexafed and Zephrex-D, which have pseudoephedrine as their only ingredient. Those medications are extremely difficult to convert into meth.

Manchin said he was working with state lawmakers in West Virginia to outlaw Sudafed and other single-ingredient generic versions that aren’t tamper-resistant…

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