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New York weighs plans for prescription drug crackdown

New York is grappling with a prescription drug problem that some have called an epidemic. Narcotic painkillers can be highly addictive and are often associated with prescription fraud.

But does it make sense to force pharmacies into drug enforcement efforts by installing GPS devices in bottles containing fake pills? The New York City police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, suggested the plan last month at a health issues conference sponsored by the Clinton foundation.

In other parts of the country, fake pill bottles have been dubbed "bait bottles." A few law enforcement agencies have experimented with them. But the New York Police Department is considering taking a much more aggressive approach to the use of fake pill bottles than has been the case elsewhere.

Commissioner Kelly asserts that an aggressive initiative is needed to confront a vibrant black market for prescription drugs such as oxycodone. The concern is not only with the prescription drugs themselves, but with related criminal activity that conflict over the drugs can cause.

In this regard, the commissioner points to a couple of high-profile incidents in recent years. In 2011, four people were killed in a pharmacy robbery on Long Island. The commissioner also cites the example of a retired police officer who became addicted to painkillers and began robbing drug stores to support his habit.

New York already has considerable infrastructure in place that could make implementation of a bait-bottle strategy feasible. For example, the NYPD has taken steps to create a database of pharmacies and pharmacists in the New York City area. This would be a very extensive database, containing information on about 6,000 pharmacists, as well as 1,800 pharmacies.

Source: "GPS In Pill Bottles? NYPD Wants to Combat NYC Prescription Drug Theft With Devices," Huffington Post, Tom Hays, 1-15-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our New York drug crime defense page.

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