He said two pseudoephedrine products -- Nexafed and Zephrex-D -- hold great promise because they can't easily be converted to meth.
Health advocates and law enforcement groups have suggested that states allow stores to sell those products over the counter, while requiring a prescription for standard pseudoephedrine tablets that are easily cooked into meth. However, Carlos Gutierrez, who sits on the task force and works for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said his trade group would oppose having one set of rules for two tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products and a prescription requirement for 15 or more other brands.
"You create a government-sponsored monopoly," said Gutierrez, whose group represents companies that manufacture over-the-counter drugs.
Also Tuesday, Gulfport, Miss., Mayor Billy Hewes told task force members that Mississippi's meth lab numbers dropped significantly after the state started requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine. The number of meth lab seizures declined from a high of 698 in 2010 -- before the law took effect -- to 253 last year, he said.
Few pharmacists or customers have complained about the prescription-only requirement, he said.
"There wasn't a lot of pushback," Hewes said. "It was the right thing to do. We were able to immediately show a statistical change."
Gutierrez said surveys show that most Americans vehemently oppose requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine. "It's such an unpopular policy with the general public," he said.
In West Virginia, lawmakers twice introduced legislation -- in 2011 and 2012 -- to make pseudoephedrine prescription-only, but legislators rejected those bills after Gutierrez's group lobbied against the proposals.
The task force, which also is examining prescription pain-pill abuse, plans to report its findings and recommendations to the Kanawha County Commission in late November.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.