Updated 10/05/2012 09:51 PM
New law to combat prescription drug abuse
Thousands of prescription drug abuse cases were reported last year in New York State. Now, there's a new law on the books to crack down on those cases. The SAFE DOSES Act was co-sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer and signed into law by the President Friday. Our Iris St. Meran tells us more about the provision and how police agencies say it will help.
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UNITED STATES -- Combating prescription drug abuse has been a headache for law enforcement officials for some time now.
Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Herb Wiggins said, "With prescription drugs, they're legal to get, legal to possess. Whereas the other illegal drugs, they're not legal to possess."
There's been a spike in abuse cases. The Upstate New York Poison Control Center says there were more than 12,800 across the state last year. This includes 3,103 in Central New York, 1,431 in the Southern Tier and 1,070 cases in the North Country.
Senator Schumer co-sponsored the SAFE DOSES Act and was signed by President Obama on Friday. It increases sentences for robbing pharmacies, creates a new crime specifically for stealing medical products, enhances sentences when harm occurs, among other provisions.
"We're not just talking about the person that robs somebody else,” Wiggins added. “We're talking the driver that is in charge of getting the prescriptions from the factory to the patient. Those prescriptions don't make it, that driver is going to be facing some serious penalties."
Aside from the law there are things you can do to ensure drugs don't get in the wrong hands. You should keep them in a secure place at your home and never throw them away, but contact your local pharmacy about proper disposal.