Small W.Va. pharmacy ends pseudoephedrine sales

November 13, 2013

ALUM CREEK, W.Va. (AP) — A small family-owned pharmacy in Lincoln County has stopped selling all cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient that is illegally used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Meds 2 Go Express owner Philip Michael told the Charleston Gazette that demand for pseudoephedrine products soared at his Alum Creek pharmacy after a Wal-Mart store 7 miles away in South Charleston stopped selling Sudafed. Some customers would show up before the store opened at 9 a.m.

“It became troubling and worrisome,” Michael told the newspaper. “We felt that, even though we were making money, it wasn’t the right way to do things. So we stopped. Completely.”

Data from NPlex, a pseudoephedrine tracking system used by the state, shows that the pharmacy was the top seller of pseudoephedrine products in West Virginia in October. Sales jumped from 140 boxes in August to 570 boxes in October, the newspaper reported.

NPlex data also shows that pseudoephedrine product sales at Wal-Mart’s South Charleston store dropped from 1,800 boxes in August to 212 boxes during the first week of September.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt told the newspaper earlier this month that the store hadn’t changed its pseudoephedrine inventory.

Michael said new customers began showing up at his store in mid-September and many came from Charleston, 15 miles away.

“It wasn’t like they were local people,” he said. “This thing exploded. We got bombarded.”

House Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, said he hopes that all pharmacies and pharmacies consider action similar to Michael’s decision.

“It’s like pushing a balloon when one store stops selling this, but what happened here is you have a pharmacy pushing back,” Perdue told the newspaper.

Perdue, a retired pharmacist, plans to introduce legislation next year to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

Earlier this month, Rite-Aid announced that its 100 stores in West Virginia have stopped selling cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. The company continues to sell cold medications in the state that combine pseudoephedrine with other ingredients. The company said that combination products are harder to make methamphetamine from than a single-ingredient product.

Michael said that his new customers bought combination products if the single-ingredient Sudafed was not available, so the pharmacy stopped selling all pseudoephedrine products at the beginning of November.