EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
from Eyewitness News Online
West Virginia Sheriff's Association Proposes Initiative To Combat Prescription Drug Abuse
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Oct. 3, 2012 12:27 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 4, 2012 2:02 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Sheriffs across West Virginia are calling for action when it comes to illegal prescription drug sales, and they're ready to take the idea to congress.
Law enforcement says the proposal would help them close in on pill mills and doctor shopping, bringing to light what they call startling statistics about prescription drug abuse in the Mountain State.
"It's an epidemic," explains Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner.
According to the 2011 West Virginia Behavioral Health Epidemiological Profile, prescription drug overdoses are killing more West Virginians than in any other state. An addiction, they say more than 150,000 West Virginians are battling.
"There is virtually no one in West Virginia that is not being directly affected by this. Their households are being destroyed. Their communities are being destroyed. Their families are being destroyed," says Tanner.
The Sheriff's Association is now calling on the federal government to help take control. With most illegal prescriptions being paid for with cash, it's been dubbed "the cash loophole." Currently, 93% of prescription drug purchases go through a national database that identifies the doctor, the prescriber, and the medication. The remaining 7%, however, is paid for with cash, and in turn, never submitted in the system.
"We have a tremendous loophole that is causing the loss of life and it's a easy, easy loophole to close up," says Tanner.
Fruth Pharmacist Dave Chesley says the plan is easier said than done.
"It's like anything else. I don't care if you're buying a car, cash transaction...how would you track that as opposed to, tell what the value of the vehicle is? It'd be very difficult," he explains.
Cash transactions raise giant red flags for pharmacists, sometimes indicating doctor shopping and pill mills. The association believes it's important this issue is handled on a national level since many West Virginians live within a half hour of the state's border.
"The things that we should be able to control the easiest is the very thing that is costing us the lives of a person a day in our communities and this is what we have to stop," said Tanner.
The Sheriff's Association says it will reach out to the state's congressional delegation in the next few weeks.
The West Virginia Sheriff's Association has announced it is joining a national initiative to combat prescription drug abuse.
Under the proposed initiative, people who use insurance to purchase prescription drugs such as oxycontin, would be put into a database. The transaction would be recorded and a record would be kept when and where those prescriptions were issued. This in turn would help prevent doctor shopping to pick up extra scripts.
The West Virginia Sheriff's Association announced that people who pay cash for these prescriptions would now be included in that database. The proposal would require congressional approval.
The announcement was made Wednesday morning at the Kanawha County Courthouse.
Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner said they are hopeful these efforts will help end the prescription drug epidemic in the Mountain State.
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