• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


The Politics of Meth in West Virginia


West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he will decide over the next month on a package of initiatives to recommend to the West Virginia legislature to get control of “this prescription pill mess and this substance abuse mess.”

But it was clear over the course of a five minute interview at the Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia on Saturday that Morrisey would likely not recommend that the legislature put pseudoephedrine products on prescription as a way to get control of the burgeoning meth lab problem in the state.

Mississippi and Oregon recently have effectively crippled their meth lab problems by putting pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine —  on prescription.

According to West Virginia State Police statistics, there were 332 meth lab incidents through August 6 — on pace to hit 570 by the end of the year — more than double the 284 incidents from 2012.

While Morrisey repeatedly said during the interview that he was “open minded” to the idea of joining Mississippi and Oregon and putting the drugs on prescription, he kept repeating pharmaceutical industry buzz words — like “regulatory costs” — to signal that he’s going to toe the industry line — and preserve the hundreds of millions of dollars in industry profits from stuffy nose medications like Sudafed (Johnson & Johnson), Advil Cold & Sinus (Pfizer), Allegra D (Sanofi), and Claritin D (Johnson & Johnson).

“At the end of the day, you have to not stop one problem and create another,” Morrisey said.

When asked to identify what problem he would create if the state put pseudoephedrine products on prescription, he refused to do so.

But the pharmaceutical industry has weighed in with it’s own detailed reports that the Attorney General will likely use to justify his decision, including one from Matrix Global Advisors in Washington, D.C. titled An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Requiring Prescriptions for Pseudoephedrine Products.

The report finds that putting pseudoephedrine products on prescription “would force high social and economic costs on consumers” including “extra doctors visits, more absenteeism and lost work productivity, higher prices for pseudoephedrine products, increased health insurance premiums, and a loss of state tax revenues.”

The report finds that eliminating the state’s meth problem by putting pseudoephedrine products on prescription does not seem “worth the cost.”

The industry’s view is countered by most law enforcement and public health officials in West Virginia and around the country.

They argue safer alternatives to pseudoephedrine products are readily available — and that the costs politicians like Morrisey truly care about are the hundreds of millions of dollars of pharmaceutical industry profits that will be lost if West Virginia and the country moves to put pseudoephedrine products on prescription.

While Morrisey said that he wants “to make sure I talk with the right people in the legislature who want to be constructive to solve this problem,” the “right people” apparently don’t include the heads of the House and Senate health committees — Delegate Don Perdue and Senator Ron Stollings.

In 2011, West Virginia sought to pass legislation that would put pseudoephedrine products back on prescription.

But the pharmaceutical industry — represented by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association — attacked the legislation and it was defeated.

The legislation was introduced by Perdue, a retired pharmacist and 16 year member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Perdue is chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee.

“It was extraordinary,” Perdue told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview earlier this year. “It passed out of my committee on a voice vote. There maybe was one dissenting vote. It passed out of the Judiciary Committee on a voice vote. Then it passed on the floor of the House of Delegates by a substantial majority — 77 to 23.”

“Then it went to the Senate. It passed the Senate Health Committee and then went straight to the floor. It was the last day of the session. When it came up for a vote, the Senate tied 16 to 16. On a tie vote, the legislation failed.”

Perdue says that pseudoephedrine is a $3 billion a year product — and estimates are that 50 percent to 80 percent of that product is used to make meth.

Putting pseudoephedrine on prescription would cost the industry anywhere from $1.5 billion to $2 billion in lost sales.

Perdue says that’s the reason his bill didn’t pass the legislature — industry profits.

“It’s positively all about profit,” Perdue said. “It has nothing to do with public health. It’s all about protecting their profits. It’s not about individual freedoms. It’s not about whether or not somebody has the ability to access cold medications. It’s not about that.”

Perdue plans to reintroduce the legislation in early 2014.

Before running for Attorney General, Morrisey was a partner at the Washington, D.C. corporate law firm of Sidley & Austin — and he has close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

On the same day that Morrisey was at the Apple Butter Festival, the Charleston Gazette ran an article detailing Morrisey’s connection to Cardinal Health, a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and medical device distribution company.

Morrisey’s predecessor — Darrell McGraw — sued Cardinal Health, alleging that the company helped fuel southern West Virginia’s problem with prescription drug abuse by shipping excessive numbers of pain pills to the region, according to the Gazette.

The Gazette reported that earlier this year, Attorney General Morrisey was in on meetings with Cardinal Health about the lawsuit, even though he had promised to recuse himself from the case.

The paper reported that Cardinal Health paid Morrisey’s wife’s lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, $400,000 last year, and another $210,00 between January and June 30, according to lobbying disclosure forms.

Since 2001, Cardinal Health has paid $3.7 million to lobbying firms that his wife — Denise Henry — has worked for or owned, the Gazette reported.

Russell Mokhiber edits Morgan County, USA.

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid