Law Enforcement: Over-The-Counter Medications Could Be A Thing O - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Law Enforcement: Over-The-Counter Medications Could Be A Thing Of The Past

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Prescription drug abuse is an ongoing problem not only in West Virginia but all across the United States.

Law enforcement said they don't see the problem going away any time soon.

"Prescription drugs are probably the easiest to obtain," said Corporal Don Neal, Fairmont Police Department. "We have educate not only the kids but we have to educate the parents and the pharmacies as well."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 48 million people (ages 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in their lifetime.

That represents about 20% of the U.S. Population.

"The medications that are out there, people are going to find ways to use and misuse those. That's the biggest problem we face daily," said Corporal Neal.

When people want those drugs they will do anything to get them. That can vary from stealing from the elderly to even writing fake prescriptions.

"If people try to do stuff its change a quantity, add refills," said Matthew Pletcher, Rider Pharmacy. "We don't see a lot but it does happen and it's something we have to be aware of at all times."

Pharmacists said the number of fraudulent prescriptions has decreased over recent years due to the utilization of electronic prescriptions. Doctors can now send the prescription straight over the pharmacy and the patient never gets their hands on it until they pick it up.

But as it becomes harder to get prescription drugs, teens are beginning to target over-counter-medications, like Claratin D and Zyrtec, and using them to make meth.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center's "National Drug Threat Assessment 2010," the majority of meth is imported into the United States from outside sources, specifically Mexico.

The remainder of the meth produced in the United States is made in small, clandestine labs that make smaller quantities of meth in more frequent batches. This can also known as the one-pot or "shake and bake" method.

The website, Stop Meth Not Meds, states lawmakers are considering proposals that would mandate over-the-counter medicines become available by prescription only.

"All of those things that are out there now that were easily accessable and that were convenient for us as commonfolk out buying them, are now going to be restricted," Corporal Neal said.

Law enforcement said the problem is only getting worse and it's just a matter of time.

"That's the way the government is having to come in and regulate because its been so out of control," Corporal Neal said.