Abuse of methamphetamine has reached epidemic proportions in southern West Virginia. Though heroin seems to be the primary illegal drug problem in our area, meth could well supplant it.
Some legislators want to curb meth production by reducing access to common cold and allergy medicines used to make meth. They would do that by requiring doctors' prescriptions for purchases of such remedies.
That would inconvenience tens of thousands of Mountain State residents every year. It could have substantial public health ramifications because it would make it much more difficult for cold, allergy and even flu sufferers to obtain relief.
A better approach is advocated by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. He wants West Virginia to join the National Precursor Log Exchange, already in place in 19 states. The computerized system links pharmacies to help them spot people buying large quantities of pseudoephedrine medicines. If red flags go up, druggists can refuse to sell to such customers - and can make law enforcement agencies aware of them.
Tomblin's idea is better than the prescription approach. Legislators should adopt it.