Lobbying on bills to require prescriptions for meds like pseudoephedrine intensifies in Kentucky and West Virginia

The lobbying battle over meds and meth is ramping up in Kentucky and West Virginia, with business interests weighing in against it in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce issued a press release this afternoon saying legislation to require prescriptions for decongestants like pseudoephedrine “could do more harm than good.” It quoted Chamber official Bryan Sunderland as saying, “It would negatively impact worker productivity and result in higher health care costs – to employees, private employers and state government.”

Former Lt. Gov. Steve Pence sides with the Chamber of Commerce, telling The Associated Press it would move “a law enforcement issue into the medical profession, where it can least be handled.”

This morning, a spokesman for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, funded mainly by drug manufacturers, spoke at length from 9 to 10 a.m. on WVLK-AM in Lexington, arguing that the proposed law would impose unncessary costs and inconvenience on people who now buy the drugs over the counter.

There was no counter-argument on WVLK’s Jack Pattie Show, though the Kentucky Medical Association has endorsed the idea, but yesterday a national substance-abuse expert told West Virginia legislators that a prescription law in that state could drastically reduce the incidence of methamphetamine labs.

And, if Kentucky and West Virginia would both pass such laws, “It will wipe out meth labs throughout this region,” Stanford University psychiatry professor Keith Humphreys told Mountain State lawmakers, The Charleston Gazette‘s Alison Knezevich reports.

Some West Virginia legislators plan to introduce pseudoephedrine legislation soon, Knezevich reports. On Jan. 4, Kentucky state Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, filed a bill that would require a prescription for ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, all now sold over the counter.

Oregon and Mississippi are the only states that require a prescription to get pseudoephedrine. Meth-lab incidence has fallen dramatically in those states since they implemented the laws, U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers of Somerset, whose district covers most of Eastern Kentucky, noted in a recent article for newspapers.

Humphries told the West Virginia lawmakers that an average meth-lab bust costs taxpayers about $300,000, including cost of arrest, prosecution, incarceration, cleanup and foster care for children in the home. (Read more)

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