Committee members voted down the amendment, saying it would undercut efforts to reduce pseudoephedrine sales and eliminate meth labs.
If the bill passes, West Virginia would become only the third state with a pseudoephedrine prescription law. Oregon and Mississippi have the prescription requirement. Meth lab seizures have declined significantly in those states.
Sen. Chris Walters, R-Kanawha, predicted criminals would travel to pharmacies in bordering states to buy pseudoephedrine legally, and then get a doctor's prescription so they could purchase more of the cold medication in West Virginia.
"We're going to make it easier for somebody to double up," said Walters "Are we not just making it easier for more meth labs?"
Walters and drug industry lobbyists support legislation that would establish a "meth offender registry" and bar people convicted of drug crimes from buying pseudoephedrine in West Virginia.
GOP committee members also noted the state would lose a pseudoephedrine-tracking system called NPLEx, if the prescription legislation passes. The system blocks sales when people try to exceed daily, monthly and yearly sales limits on the drug.
Senators who supported the bill said they want to reduce meth labs so law enforcement officers can spend more time fighting West Virginia's problem with prescription drugs and heroin.
"This bill will help law enforcement tremendously," said Sen. Sam Cann, D-Harrison. "[Meth labs] put [police officers] in peril. It puts families in peril."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.