New W.Va. Law will Limit Purchase of Pseudoephedrine

By: Carrie Cline Email
By: Carrie Cline Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The weather is warming, flowers are blooming and we're already spending more time outside.

But, with the spring fever comes hay fever for some and lots of sneezing and wheezing. That means nasal decongestants and allergy medications are going to get a workout just as West Virginia lawmakers pass a law limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine.

It is designed to prevent someone buying pseudoephedrine for illegal activity. Once the law goes into effect, folks will be limited to buying no more than 3.6 grams a day, 7.2 grams a week, or 48 grams a year.
Some say that's still way too much; others say it's just about right.

Dr. Matthew Wilson has been an allergist for several decades. When it comes to the use of pseudoephedrine to treat allergies or long-term nasal congestion, he has a strong opinion.

“I don’t believe pseudoephedrine should be used long-term," Wilson said. "It has dangerous side effects.”

Pseudoephedrine has made headlines recently as West Virginia lawmakers work to limit the purchase and restrict the manufacture of meth. Wilson says for folks with legitimate medical needs, there are better alternatives long-term than pseudoephedrine.

“There are plenty of other medications that are more suitable to treating allergies over the long-term,” he said.

The new law limits the daily purchase to about 3 grams a day or five boxes of 24 pills each.

“I think the limits are too high," Rebecca Skeens said. "The average person can’t go through one box in a week, much less five in one day."

“I think the limits could be stricter,” said Ric Griffith, a pharmacist in Kenova, W.Va.

He says not only does he think the limits are too high, he's concerned about how the state is going to track customer purchases.

“We need something that reports to us in real time so we know if we’re selling to an abuser or not,” Griffith said.

There were stricter forms of the law debated that would have required a prescription for all pseudoephedrine purchases.

Some meth makers have already bypassed efforts to limit the purchase of pseudoephedrine. While standard meth labs require hundreds of pills, the small shake and bake meth labs only require a couple of pills to make enough meth for a couple of hits.

The law is awaiting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's signature. The new law would go into effect later this year.

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