Pseudoephedrine Legislation [“The Meth Bill”]

LEGISLATION: Legislation will once again be proposed in 2012 regarding this issue.  Last year HB 2946 proposed requiring the issuance of a lawful prescription for dispensing drug products containing as an active ingredient ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine and other chemical precursors of methamphetamine.

ISSUE: This bill will require consumers to go to a doctor to get a prescription for common cold and allergy products that include the ingredient pseudoephedrine.  These products are currently sold “behind-the-counter” and require the consumer to provide a valid ID.  That information is then compiled in a database available to law enforcement.

PRODUCTS IMPACTED:  Advil Cold & Sinus, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Mucinex-D, and Sudafed, among others.
The West Virginia Retailers Association and many other businesses and organizations DO NOT support the concept of requiring a prescription for common cold and allergy products that include the ingredient pseudoephedrine (PSE).

While some percentage – we believe small – of PSE products are being diverted to manufacture methamphetamine, we do not believe it is appropriate to require legitimate consumers of these products to have to get a prescription – which would require a doctor visit, office co-pay and potentially higher cost – to obtain it.

In West Virginia, over-the-counter medications are subject to six percent state sales tax, while prescription medications are not.  Requiring a prescription for PSE products could cost the state as much as $135,000 dollars.  In addition, West Virginia will pay thousands more in Medicaid physician payments.  Considering Medicaid enrollment is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, this represents a growing liability for the state.

And worse yet, this bill would hurt our local retailers, particularly those that are located on the borders of our state.  Legitimate consumers of these products will be forced to travel across state lines to purchase these products, should they be made prescription-only.

While meth is a serious problem and one that needs to be addressed, we believe the solution includes a real-time, stop-sale system, which blocks illegal purchases at the counter and across multiple states.  These initiatives are working in other states and will be effective in West Virginia.

We need to punish criminals, not consumers.