CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Policy makers and law enforcement continue to search for weapons in the battle against methamphetamine.
If use continues to rise in West Virginia, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said state lawmakers here and elsewhere could consider legislation that would require a prescription to purchase products with meth's main ingredient: pseudoephedrine.
"If the problem continues without... attempted solutions, I think that's something that probably would be considered," Capito said.
On Tuesday morning, Capito - who is back in the state during the congressional recess -- visited a Charleston branch of Fruth Pharmacy. She met company president Lynn Fruth at the store to learn more about a medication that contains pseudoephedrine but is harder to use in producing meth.
The product, Nexafed, is marketed as a tamper-resistant medication used to treat allergy symptoms. While the effect might be similar to other popular medications -- like Sudafed -- other ingredients in the product make it much harder to use to produce meth.
Fruth pharmacies plan to use the product at each of its 27 stores, Fruth said.
"I think that for us as a pharmacy any time that we can do anything -- whether it's a positive cash flow or a negative cash flow - any time that we can say, 'This is something that's going to be helping the problem,' then we need to be on board with it," Fruth said.
She said her pharmacists do a good job of policing their own sale of products containing pseudoephedrine, and the small chain doesn't turn a massive profit from the sales anyway.
Fruth and Sam Arco, a pharmacist at the downtown Charleston store, don't think requiring a prescription for such products is the right way to address the problem. Both said there could be increased costs of visiting a doctor, and questions as to whether there are enough physicians to meet the hypothetically larger number of visits from patients in search of pseudoephedrine.
Recently the West Virginia Legislature passed a law that requires pharmacies to keep all products that contain pseudoephedrine behind the counter. Those who purchase the products must show identification, and the purchases are tracked through a computer-based system.