Given their profitability and potency, it's little wonder prescription drug abuse is a problem.
New York's I-STOP law, which took effect in February, has the potential to slow down certain types of prescription drug abuse. The law includes a "real time" prescription monitoring registry to stop people from hopping from one doctor to another to get more prescription drugs than they need and requires all prescriptions to be electronically transmitted. There are also safeguards for the distribution of prescription drugs that are prone to abuse.
In recent weeks, though, a pair of cases in Jamestown have provided examples of prescription drug abuse that fall through the law's cracks.
On March 21, a Jamestown woman was indicted by a federal grand jury after allegedly stealing prescription forms from a nurse practitioner at the Jamestown Community Based Outpatient Clinic, forging a name and then writing prescriptions for oxycodone. The prescriptions were then filled at local pharmacies. Then, on Thursday, a Jamestown man was charged with third-degree robbery and petit larceny after handing a note demanding prescription drugs to a pharmacist at the Tops Markets in Falconer. He was caught in the parking lot by a store employee.
It's very likely criminal activity will increase as I-STOP makes it more difficult for abusers and sellers to get their hands on these money-making pills. That's been the story nationally. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics state armed robberies at pharmacies increased 81 percent between 2006 and 2010. Maine officials saw a rash of pharmacy burglaries and robberies throughout 2012.
While Chautauqua County has seen its share of forged prescription schemes over the years, robbing a pharmacy for prescription drugs is new, though not entirely surprising, behavior given the profit one can make selling prescription drugs.
Law enforcement officials, federal and state lawmakers shouldn't think I-STOP is a panacea that will end prescription drug abuse. It's merely a first step. Jamestown has shown prescription drug abuse, and the criminal activity that it generates, aren't stopping anytime soon.