EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFruth Pharmacy Rolls Out New Product Aimed At Meth Prevention
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Videographer: Mike Magee
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Aug. 26, 2013 9:45 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 27, 2013 9:26 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
New efforts are underway to fight West Virginia's meth epidemic.
Here's what we know:
-Meth continues to be a serious problem, with more than 300 labs uncovered in the Mountain State so far this year.
-Kanawha county leads the state, with more than a third of those labs.
-The state has an electronic tracking system, requiring you to show identification when buying cold medicines with the common meth-making ingredient pseudoephedrine.
-But despite the tougher laws, pharmacies say people are still able to buy what they need, continuing to spur the state's meth problem.
To help crack down on the problem, one local pharmacy chain is rolling out a new cold medicine product, that can not be used to make meth.
Forget about fixing your sniffles--a lot of cold medicine gets into the wrong hands to make meth.
"These people are using drugs that are very harmful because of the way it's manufactured and the people who manufacture it," said Clay Nease of Charleston.
Fruth Pharmacy is taking a step it hopes will help stop people from using common cold meds to make drugs, with a new product called Nexafed. It just recently came onto the market, and about 1400 retailers nationwide carry it. Nexafed still contains pseudoephedrine, but scientists have reformulated it to be what's called "tamper-proof," making it next to impossible to use it in cooking meth.
"Basically it works the same way. There's no reason to choose anything else. And number two--I think this is something that eventually, it will be the only thing available to you anyway. So it just makes good sense all the way around," said Fruth pharmacist Sam Arco.
Right now, it's only available in one variety of sinus medicine. But as more kinds of cold and allergy pills become "tamper proof," Fruth Pharmacy says it plans to stop carrying products that aren't, hoping it makes a statement to drug companies and the community that this is a serious issue.
"It's something where you feel like you are giving the customer what they want without adding to the problem in the community," Arco said.
And for people who see the problems meth creates, the new medicine is seen as a step in the right direction...
"I think it's important. Meth is something we're starting to see in a lot of different communities, and I think anything we can do to make it go away or make our communities safer is a good thing," said Charleston visitor Leslie McElligott.
And the meth problem is expensive. It's estimated for every box of pseudoephedrine that's made into meth, there's a $3700 cost to the community, through toxic clean-up, healthcare, and child endangerment costs.
Fruth Pharmacy says it may well lose business when it starts taking away popular, traditional cold medicines, but it says helping curb meth use and the huge cost to the community is well worth it.
You may recall this summer CVS Pharmacy announced it would require ID to be shown for the purchase of nail polish removers containing acetone, another common meth ingredient. Soon after, it reversed the policy. But in West Virginia, CVS still requires ID be shown for purchasing iodine, yet another meth ingredient.
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