It’s probably happened to you.
You’ve been feeling under the weather, so you decide to stop by a local pharmacy to pick up some cold medicine to help drag you out of the funk you’ve been stuck in for a few days.
You’re tired and sniffly, but you know an over-the-counter medicine like Sudafed will help chase those feelings away.
Of course, once you get to the pharmacy, you find that the spot where Sudafed normally would be is empty, and you have to speak to the pharmacist directly — and show your driver’s license — to buy the medicine your body needs to get well.
And don’t bother trying to stock up to prevent the same hassle in the future. West Virginia law limits the purchase of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient found in Sudafed and other over-the-counter options used to treat the common cold.
Why? It’s one way lawmakers can fight rampant meth use in the state.
That’s because criminals often purchase common over-the-counter medications used to fight colds and allergies because those medicines contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient used to make meth.
It’s not the only way the state is cracking down on criminals getting their hands on the ingredient. At the beginning of the year, state pharmacies began using the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), an electronic database that not only keeps records of customers purchasing medications containing pseudoephedrine, but makes that data available to other pharmacies and law enforcement agencies.
For years prior to Jan. 1, when the state began using NPLEx, pharmacies were required to keep records of customers purchasing medications containing pseudoephedrine. But the information was typically logged at the pharmacy and not shared with others. Plus, if law enforcement officers were investigating a suspect for meth manufacture, the officers had to visit individual pharmacies and compare records.
Now the process has been streamlined in what officials are calling “a valuable tool.”
They also say law-abiding consumers shouldn’t see any difference. Just like before, customers will have to present a driver’s license to purchase the medication. As long as no flags are raised, the purchase will go through like normal. But if a person has purchased more than the daily, monthly or annual limit on pseudoephedrine medications determined by state law — the monthly limit is 7.2 grams, which is basically two boxes of cold medicine — the system will forbid the transaction.
NPLEx is shared among 27 states across the country, including neighboring Kentucky and Virginia, and Pennsylvania and Ohio are considering mandating its use as well.
That’s good news, according to Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association.
“Once our borders are blocked, then it would be virtually impossible to go across state lines” to buy supplies for a meth lab, she said.
We’re encouraged by the positive results NPLEx is having in the two short months since it was implemented, and even though Marion County Sheriff Joe Carpenter has said the sheriff’s department hasn’t had a chance to use the system because there have been few meth-related arrests in the past few months, it’s reassuring to know the system is in place if local officers ever need it.
It’s just one more step in the community’s — and state’s — continued war on drugs.
It’s probably happened to you.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
- More Opinion Headlines
- COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay