Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Prescription Drug Abuse Rising in Ada County

Posted By on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Pointing to an increasing trend of prescription drug offenses, Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney huddled today with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"This reminds me of how we looked at domestic violence 20 years ago," said Raney, pointing toward a 2011 projection of 48 prescription drug-related offenses in Ada County. "This has been, up until recently, an unreported crime."

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney
  • Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney

Raney said his staff, along with federal agents, is seeing a jump in prescription fraud in addition to illegal possession and trafficking of prescription drugs.

Eagle Police Chief Brian Hippe said his officers, while investigating incidents of burglary and theft, have found a number of suspects with a major prescription drug addiction.

Eagle Police Chief Brian Hippe
  • Eagle Police Chief Brian Hippe

"We had one woman in custody tell us she took more than 30 Norco pills a day," said Hippe. Norco is a common painkiller. "And on a bad day, she took up to 50 Norcos."

Special Agent Glenn Ferry of the Inspector General's Office said his team is focusing on physicians and patients who are abusing federally-funded programs such as Medicare.

"They're taking advantage of our must vulnerable population," said Ferry. "We're seeing doctors over-prescribe prescriptions. We're seeing patients use multiple doctors to load up on painkillers."

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 7 million Americans abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in 2009. It represented a 13 percent increase in just one year.

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