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West Virginians would need a prescription to buy a handful of over-the-counter allergy and cold medicines containing ingredients used to make methamphetamines under legislation approved by the House of Delegates on Wednesday.
The bill would require a doctor visit to obtain medications that contain ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine and other drugs used to make methamphetamine. It also would limit the amount a person could have.
The measure passed 77-23, with broad support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, said the dangers of methamphetamines overcame initial concerns about making pseudoephedrine harder to obtain.
"It still is a really good medication," Perdue said. "The problem is now it's being used to develop something that's extraordinarily dangerous."
Oregon and Mississippi have already enacted similar legislation and House members cited statistics showing sharp declines in the number of methamphetamines labs found in each state.
"If we save one child, if we save one person, it's worth the passage of this bill," said Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood.
The legislation enjoys strong support from the law enforcement community and state agencies. Drug makers oppose the bill and favor real-time computer tracking of purchases to control meth makers.
Mandy Hagan, a lobbyist with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said opponents will take the fight to the state Senate.
"It's beyond an inconvenience," Hagan said. "It's a shame that you can't have the opportunity to buy this product because it's so safe and so effective."