AS I sat across the long table from state Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha, at a meeting with the Daily Mail editorial board on Monday, one question kept rolling in my mind.
Why is the answer always a new law?
Foster, Delegate Don Purdue, D-Wayne, and others were pitching a bill to the editorial board.
Foster, a surgeon now working as an administrator, has considered meth labs and decided the only way to reduce their number is to make West Virginians get a doctor's prescription to buy cold medications like Sudafed that contain pseudoephedrine.
He dismissed an industry plan to tighten the tracking of the sale of these drugs.
"What we have here is an attempt by the industry to prevent the prescription-only option, which we think works far, far better by offering what some would call a compromise," he said.
Legislating is all about compromise.
I do not understand the hostility to industry.
Perhaps because the measure fell by one switched vote last year, Foster sees no reason to work with industry.
Perhaps he blames the industry for that switched-vote loss.
But I would give the industry solution a whirl, because we already tried a new law in 2005 that was supposed to be the final solution. That law placed the over-the-counter medications behind the counter.
Under that law, customers must sign a log and are limited to how much Sudafed and the like they may purchase in any given month.
That law apparently worked to some degree.
Now we are back to discussing a new law.
There is an irony in requiring people to get prescriptions to buy these cold remedies.
Prescription drug abuse is the No. 1 drug problem in West Virginia.
Unscrupulous doctors have seen workers comp fraud dry up now that the state no longer runs workers comp. The crooked doctors switched to writing prescriptions for oxycodones such as OxyContin.
The result is that West Virginia now is second only to New Mexico in the number of drug-related deaths per 100,000 people.