CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Tuesday that West Virginia would join 47 other states and territories in a push to make prescription drugs more difficult to abuse.
Morrisey and 47 other attorneys general have sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to require generic drug manufacturers to make opioid drugs tamper- and abuse-resistant.
"Like many other states and territories, West Virginia suffers from an epidemic of prescription drug abuse," Morrisey said in a prepared statement.
"We joined in with other states and territories in the hope that if pharmaceutical manufacturers can make all prescription opioid-based pain relievers tamper-resistant and abuse-resistant, it will help to address one part of the prescription drug abuse problem."
Morrisey referred to a study from the Centers for Disease Control that found West Virginia had one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country. About 25 of every 100,000 people in the state died from an overdose in 2008.
"That is a very sad and scary statistic that is made all the worse when you think of the families and lives forever changed by this plague," he said.
Attorneys general in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina were the lead authors of the letter, addressed to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
While the letter praises the FDA for establishing clear tampering and abuse standards for drug manufacturers, it encourages the agency to require generic drug manufacturers to meet those same standards.
"I hope the FDA will take seriously the potential impact of generic opioid-based pain relievers that do not incorporate tamper-resistant features," Morrisey said.
"The last thing anyone wants is for old problems to reoccur simply because individuals shift to the generic brands that don't utilize protective features."
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A bill that puts an end to all city and county gun ordinances was introduced in the state Senate on Tuesday.
Senate President Jeff Kessler assigned the bill to that body's government organization and judiciary committees.