Drugs containing pseudoephedrine have been godsends to those who suffer from allergies and severe colds. For some, nothing else works well to battle their symptoms.
Another class of people - the "cooks" who produce the illegal methamphetamines that have ruined thousands of lives all over West Virginia - are fond of pseudoephedrine medicines, too. They use them as feedstocks to produce meth.
Meth laboratories are found by the hundreds in southern West Virginia. The problem has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that some legislators are considering requiring that pseudoephedrine drugs be available only with prescriptions from doctors.
That might reduce the amount of pseudoephedrine available to meth producers. It also would have unpleasant side-effects.
Anyone wishing to buy pseudoephedrine drugs for legitimate reasons - and many Mountain State residents do - would have to find the time to go to a doctor's office and the money to pay for the visit in order to obtain the required prescription. In some cases, people would simply continue to suffer rather than take time off work or pay more for medicine.
Still, a bill in the West Virginia Legislature would, if enacted, require the prescriptions. The measure seems to have a substantial amount of support.
But a few thoughtful lawmakers wonder whether existing measures to keep meth cooks from obtaining pseudoephedrine, including a sophisticated computer tracking system used in pharmacies and new, tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine drugs, should not be given more of a chance to succeed.
They are right. The prescription-only bill should not be approved.