CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The impact of illicit methamphetamine production on our community has been documented by this newspaper and the problems are well-known to West Virginians.
Our state Legislature is considering a bill to require consumers to obtain a prescription for popular cold and allergy products containing the key meth-making ingredient pseudoephedrine as a way to curb the rising trend of meth production. Pharmacists overwhelmingly consider pseudoephedrine the most effective non-prescription nasal decongestant.
The challenge is that by moving to prescription-only pseudoephedrine, we're not only placing an additional burden on physicians and consumers, but essentially limiting all of our access to a trusted medicine that works.
Recently, two new meth-resistant pseudoephedrine products have been introduced in our state. They work by disrupting the conversion of the active ingredient into meth. Some have proposed an exemption for these products from the prescription requirement of the bill. An exemption would provide an incentive for pharmacists to stock meth-resistant products and ensure consumers have access to the medicines they need without the hassle of having to get a prescription. Ultimately, that determination will be at the discretion of the lawmakers and possibly the State Board of Pharmacy.
While our legislators weigh the pros and cons of the proposed legislation, pharmacists and pharmacies can take immediate action to combat meth abuse. My pharmacy chain and many other pharmacies in our state are there already. We have removed comparable pseudoephedrine products from our shelves and are stocking only products with meth-deterring technology. Saying goodbye to the traditional version of the popular cold and allergy medicine was not an easy decision. But for us, it was the right decision. Since we have made the switch, we've seen that legitimate customers are willing to try products with meth-deterring technology and most, if not all, are satisfied with the results.
At this time, not all pharmacy retailers have made a similar commitment to West Virginia. It starts with removing traditional pseudoephedrine products from shelves and stocking and recommending products with meth-resistant technology. By doing so, the average cold and allergy sufferer will continue to get the nasal congestion relief they need.
Curbing illicit meth production is important to all West Virginians, and the solutions are not easy ones. However, we can all start today by asking our pharmacies to adopt the new standard of care for our state and start using meth-resistant pseudoephedrine products.
Fruth is president and chairman of Fruth Pharmacy.