Hurrah for West Virginia's Fruth Pharmacy chain, which willingly waived some profit by refusing to sell pseudoephedrine cold pills to criminals who turn the medication into "meth" for pitiful addicts.
From now on, Fruth -- which has 27 stores in West Virginia and Ohio -- will sell a type of pseudoephedrine that becomes a worthless gum if drug-pushers try to convert it. The special brand is Nexafed, produced by Acura Pharmaceuticals of Illinois.
All other conscientious West Virginia pharmacies should follow Fruth's example of honesty. Doing so would prove that they don't want to profit from sales that go straight into the horrifying dope business that wrecks thousands of lives.
If Big Pharma, America's gigantic drug industry, had enough ethics, it would cease producing pseudoephedrine in forms that serve methamphetamine labs. All manufacturers should make only conversion-proof pills.
The Legislature flunked two opportunities to wipe out meth labs by requiring doctor prescriptions for over-the-counter pills like Sudafed. Instead, lawmakers imposed a sales-tracking system that has done little so far. Police seizure of West Virginia labs has doubled this year, with more than 100 found in Kanawha County alone.
At Fruth's Lee Street store in Charleston, druggist Samuel Arco told The Associated Press it's easy to recognize dopeheads who buy pills for meth labs. "The effect that meth has on a person's visual appearance -- we know what you're going to ask for before you open your mouth," he said.
Chain president Lynne Fruth said her firm would lose some profit by stopping sales of Sudafed and similar pills used for illegal dope. But the chain will accept the loss, because: "We feel as a company that we need to do the best thing for our customers and our community. We're not going to be part of the problem."
Richard Stevens of the state Pharmacists Association praised Fruth and said he thinks other West Virginia stores will do likewise, because they also want to halt the narcotic nightmare.
As we said earlier this week, the Legislature should mandate that only Nexafed-style cold pills can be sold over the counter in West Virginia -- and the type used in meth labs must require prescriptions.
The Fruth chain deserves public gratitude for spearheading this reform. We hope state leaders join the cleanup.