(Buffalo, N.Y.) Today, at Tile Pharmacy in Cheektowaga, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced his plan to crack down on prescription drug theft that is fueling an unprecedented spike in drug abuse in Buffalo and Western NY. In just the first three months of 2011, the Upstate New York Poison Control Center reports that there have been 121 cases of prescription drug abuse in Erie County alone. If the current and disturbing trend continues through 2011, this will result in over 480 prescription drug abuse cases for the year. Just days after the arraignment of a woman from Concord, in the Southtowns, who was arrested with a stash of over 1,000 illegal pills that she was selling from her home, and following several reports of prescription drug robberies in Upstate New York, Schumer presented his detailed plan, including new legislation, to fight drug theft. The plan aims to combat theft at every point of the supply chain, from the drug warehouse to the delivery truck to the pharmacy, by increasing penalties, placing medical product theft under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, and giving law enforcement wiretap access and other tools to combat dangerous drug rings.
Schumer was joined by Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III, Retired School Administrator Susan Nablo, Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Mary Holtz, Cheektowaga Chief of Police David Zack, Cheektowaga Police Captain Michael Sliwinski, Executive Director of Kids Escaping Drugs JoAnne Hudecki, and Tile Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Joe Rutowski as he announced the new legislation.
"There has been a disturbing level of prescription drug abuse in Western New York, and the recent arrest of the individual from the Southtowns is yet another example of the prescription drug epidemic that is sweeping the country, leaving crime and tragedy in its wake," said Schumer. "All too often, drugs that end up on our streets are either stolen or obtained by doctor shopping, creating a robust supply chain that puts more and more prescription drugs in our neighborhoods, our schools, and on our streets. My plan provides enhanced sentencing and additional tools for law enforcement to crackdown on criminals peddling prescription drugs, and deters others from following suit. With recent incidents of pharmacy theft beginning to show up in Western New York, we need to use every tool in our arsenal to keep prescription drugs out of the hands of dealers and away from our kids."