Kroger Restricts Medicine

CHARLESTON (AP) – Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

The new limits at Kroger’s 40 pharmacies in the state will be effective in the coming weeks and are more restrictive than those under West Virginia law. Kroger didn’t follow the lead of some competitors that barred sales of cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient.

“Single-ingredient (pseudoephedrine) is a legal and effective medication that customers with legitimate health needs want to be able to purchase,” Kroger spokesman Carl York said Wednesday.

Kroger customers next month will be allowed to buy no more than 3.6 grams per month of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine. West Virginia law allows people to purchase 7.2 grams per month.

CVS in July announced it will no longer sell medications that solely contain pseudoephedrine at its 50 West Virginia stores and at 40 stores in neighboring states that are within 15 miles of the West Virginia border. Rite Aid, Fruth Pharmacy and Walgreens also have stopped selling single-ingredient pseudoephedrine cold products in West Virginia.

Kroger pharmacies sold more than 40,000 boxes of cold medications with pseudoephedrine last year, behind Walmart, Rite Aid and CVS.

Pseudoephedrine also is used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine. Police seized 207 meth labs across the state over the first half of this year. Law enforcement agencies seized a record 530 meth labs in 2013.

A bill that would have required a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine died on the final night of this year’s regular session after time ran out on an agreement between the House and the Senate.

York said Kroger has urged state officials to establish uniform rules to regulate pseudoephedrine purchases because the various drug store chains have different inventory policies.

“In the long-term, a voluntary approach is far less effective as it creates confusion for West Virginia customers who use these products to meet their health and wellness needs.”