David Potters, executive director of the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy, said police could still track purchases through the state's prescription drug monitoring program.
State lawmakers twice have introduced legislation -- in 2011 and 2012 -- to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine, but legislators rejected both bills after drug industry and retail store representatives lobbied against the proposals.
Oregon and Mississippi are the only two states that require a doctor's prescription to buy the cold and allergy medication. Individual counties and cities in Missouri and Tennessee also have ordinances that make pseudoephedrine prescription-only.
In West Virginia, pharmacies now keep pseudoephedrine products behind the counter, and customers must show a photo ID to purchase the drug.
After Tuesday's meeting, a drug industry lobbying group issued a statement saying the bill "creates a host of unintended consequences."
"It will create a costly hardship on law-abiding citizens in the form of time off of work, additional trips to the doctor and higher co-pays at the pharmacy," said Elizabeth Funderburk, spokeswoman for the Consumer Health Care Products Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbies for drug manufacturers. "Prescriptions for medication have proven to provide little to no deterrence of abuse or diversion."
Funderburk also criticized the bill for exempting pseudoephedrine products "that some claim can't be diverted to meth."
"The [U.S.] Drug Enforcement Administration ... has stated that to date, no such products exist in the marketplace," she said. "It would be unfair to the thousands of West Virginians who rely on their preferred brand of nonprescription cold and allergy medicines to be made to consume a product as chosen by West Virginia state lawmakers."
Stollings said the prescription requirement also makes sense because it's unsafe for people to take the cold medication if they have high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
"I think putting it back in the hands of physicians is important," he said.
The bill next goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.