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Tomblin to recommend drug abuse measures to Legislature

By Candace Nelson

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin plans to make recommendations to the legislature on whether to make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug soon.

Pseudoephedrine, an ingredient commonly used in nasal decongestants, is often used to make methamphetamine.

While it is possible to make methamphetamine without pseudoephedrine, it is much more difficult. Dozens of decongestants, including Sudafed, Claritin-D and Zyrtec-D, contain pseudoephedrine.

The West Virginia Legislature recently passed a law that requires pharmacies to keep all products that contain pseudoephedrine behind the counter. Those who purchase products containing pseudoephedrine must show identification, and the purchases are tracked through a computer-based system known as the National Precursor Log Exchange.

West Virginia joined 29 other states earlier this year in tracking sales via NPLEx. The system aims to track sales of the decongestant and block buyers from purchasing more than the legal limit.

Tomblin said he plans to address the prescription pseudoephedrine issue, as well as NPLEx, soon.

"We continue to look at all those different subjects," he said.

". . . And the advisory council I'm sure will be coming shortly with some recommendations. Obviously NPLEx is one of the systems out there that was in place for reporting purpose . . . and we'll continue to monitor. If there's something better, we want to do it."

"I'm sure that we will have some recommendations for the Legislature; we're just not there yet."

In the governor's opening remarks for the Regional Substance Abuse Task Force celebratory event, which was part of the Department of Health and Human Resources' inaugural Integrated Behavioral Health Conference on Monday afternoon, Tomblin noted the severity of the situation in West Virginia.

"Substance abuse is an epidemic," he said. "It's a fight that will take all of us working together to win.

"We are working toward real solutions to substance abuse around West Virginia . . . We're investing in community-based treatment and taking a hard stance with prescription drug abuse."

Tomblin signed Executive Order 5-11 in 2011 that works to identify priorities and strategies for addressing the substance abuse and addition problems facing the state.

The six Substance Abuse Regional Task Forces were formed to gather thoughts from communities on the matter. The task force meetings continue regional projects and increase network connections and sectors of people working to address substance abuse issues.

The task forces were honored Monday at the conference, which will bring together more than 600 medical professionals, substance abuse prevention specialists, educators, families and survivors. The conference will end on Thursday.

Last month, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., partnered with Lynn Fruth, the president of the local Fruth Pharmacy chain, to announce the stores would begin carrying a tamper-proof variety of pseudoephedrine, Nexafed.

Nexafed reportedly cannot be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Reporters Zack Harold and Dave Boucher contributed to this story.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nelson@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Candace07.


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