BY far, West Virginia leads the nation in drug overdose deaths. Most of these deaths involve prescription drugs, particularly anti-depressants and painkillers.
In August, the Kanawha County Commission established a task force on substance abuse headed by Dr. Dan Foster, a former state senator. After many meetings, the group has made 13 recommendations, which lawmakers should give their serious consideration when they convene for their annual 60-day session in January.
Among the suggestions are:
Overall, 12 of the recommendations seem reasonable. One is a stinker. Foster has insisted for years that buyers should need a prescription to purchase Sudafed-D and other decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used to homebrew crystal meth.
However, this requirement would punish the vast majority of users who simply want allergy or cold relief. Given the numerous doctors who run pill mills in the state for people who abuse prescription drugs, it is doubtful that such a move would reduce drug abuse. In fact, abusers might bump themselves up to abusing more dangerous drugs.
The pseudoephedrine prescription proposal should be debated separately.
But West Virginia has a severe drug abuse problem, especially when it comes to painkillers. It is good that Kanawha County convened a panel of experts to develop solutions. Dr. Foster and his colleagues deserve thanks for their work.