Requiring prescriptions cure worse than scourge


Effort to require prescriptions for cold, allergy medicine dose of over-reach

An editorial from The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — This is not a case of swatting a mosquito with a sledgehammer.

Instead, what House Bill 4212 does is attempt to rid our state of a pestilence by spraying everyone with insecticide.

According to a recent State Police report, methamphetamine lab seizures in West Virginia jumped by 85 percent in 2013.

That follows a law passed in 2012 requiring pharmacies statewide to record purchases of pseudoephedrine into an industry-funded, real-time tracking system— NPLEx (the National Precursor Log Exchange).

This law also requires an ID to buy pseudoephedrine and strictly limits monthly and annual purchases.

If you attempt to buy more than the limit it flags you and prevents your purchase.

NPLEx is widely used in about 30 states, including West Virginia’s neighbors.

Some might conclude that this 2012 law has done little to curb the production of methamphetamine.

We don’t. As a matter of fact, this tracking system has probably prevented countless sales of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines used to produce meth.

And it’s only been in effect since Jan. 1, 2013.

Of these 533 meth labs — up from 288 in 2012 — discovered in 45 of the state’s 55 counties, nearly 60 percent — 310 — were located in seven counties.

More than 200 of them were located in the Charleston-to-Huntington corridor. It also can be argued the number of these labs is not growing.

Rather, law enforcement is just more savvy about who and what to investigate.

On the other hand, HB 4212 is a knee-jerk reaction that probably will cause more problems than it fixes.

For one, it will drive up health care costs. Simply making an OTC medicine a prescription will accomplish that.

Of course, to get the prescription you will also need to see a doctor, which only drives those costs even higher, not to mention the inconvenience.

Let’s be clear: Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug. And people who make it are criminals. However, the vast majority of meth is not made in the Mountain State or the United States, at all.

It’s actually smuggled here from Mexico. And last time we looked, prescription drugs were already being abused at a far greater rate than all illegal drugs combined.

Why not ban sales of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine to anyone with a felony drug conviction?

Give NPLEx time, too. One year into this tracking system is no testament to its effectiveness.

HB 4212 is no prescription for swatting the criminal element. Indeed, it’s a short-sighted remedy that victimizes people who chronically suffer health problems.

Click here for the Dominion Post e-edition.

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