WV Substance Abuse Bill Signed Into Law

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed Senate Bill 437 into law, establishing a statewide database to record new prescriptions within 24 hours of being dropped off. He signed a new mine safety law days earlier.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wrapped up a productive legislative season with his March 29 signing of Senate Bill 437 into law. Taking effect June 8, the bill establishes a statewide database to record new prescriptions within 24 hours of being dropped off, so patients cannot collect duplicate prescriptions from different doctors.

Eight days earlier, Tomblin had signed House Bill 4351, a mining safety bill that sets up an anonymous tipline for miners to report safety issues, raises penalties for violations, and requires that ventilation plans be submitted. Another new law makes it a secondary offense to use a cellphone while driving as of July 1, 2012. It will become a primary offense one year later.

Tomblin visited pharmacies in three cities on March 29 to highlight the new substance abuse law. "Prescription drug abuse in our state is a pervasive problem with tragic consequences," he said. “We have lost far too many of our fellow West Virginians to drug overdoses, and drug addiction leads to other crimes like robberies and home invasions. That's why I fought so hard for this new law. It cracks down hard on the underlying causes of our state's drug crisis. I'm proud that we're tackling this problem head on, and I'm confident that this legislation will save lives."

According to the governor’s office, the new contains the nation's strictest yearly purchasing limit for pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine; limits controlled substances dispensed directly from a doctor's office to two 72-hour doses per patient in a 15-day period; and strengthens consumer protections against illegitimate online pharmacies. The bill had passed the West Virginia House on Sunday, March 11, on the final night of the regular legislative session.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association said the bill makes West Virginia the 19th state to require pharmacists and other retailers to be connected through the National Precursor Log Exchange system, which has blocked thousands of illegal sales nationwide. "Governor Tomblin, Senators Kessler and Hall, and the West Virginia legislature are to be commended for choosing a proven method for curbing methamphetamine production that targets criminals and protects responsible consumers' access to popular and reliable cold and allergy medicines," said Scott M. Melville, president and CEO of CHPA. He said the law's passage "is a significant victory for West Virginia citizens, employers, law enforcement officials and healthcare providers."

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