RALEIGH, N.C. : February 29, 2012 - A new law went into effect Thursday March 1, that aims to help fight prescription drug fraud and abuse, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday.
Under Senate Bill 474, pharmacies will be required to check photo identification before filling prescriptions for certain drugs including Oxycontin, morphine, methadone, fentanyl and Vicodin. The new requirement applies to all Schedule II drugs and certain Schedule III drugs, as classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Powerful prescription drugs can be deadly when misused, and this law will help us fight the growing problem of prescription drug abuse,” Cooper said.
The new law is expected to cut down on the use of fraud to get prescriptions for painkillers that can be unsafe when abused or misused. Some prescription drug addicts visit multiple doctors to get prescriptions written under various names in order to feed their habit. Others copy legitimate prescriptions and have them filled for themselves. The law is also expected to curtail people coming to North Carolina from other states to fill fraudulent prescriptions.
Cooper is looking at other possible changes to the law to fight prescription drug abuse, including stronger penalties for tampering with prescription drugs and obtaining prescriptions illegally.
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in North Carolina and across the country, leading to more overdose deaths. Fatal drug overdoses are now the primary cause of death due to unintentional injury in the U.S., exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Preliminary data from the N.C. Division of Public Health indicates that approximately 1,000 people died from prescription drug overdoses in North Carolina last year.
The State Bureau of Investigation has seen a 400 percent increase in prescription drug related cases over a five year period. SBI agents are currently working several cases involved large prescription drug forgery rings. The 11 agents with the SBI Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit particularly focus on cases involving doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who abuse their positions to divert prescription drugs from lawful use and also work cases involving doctor shopping and overdose deaths.
“Our agents work to stop people with ready access from abusing or dealing in these dangerous drugs, especially when they’re responsible for providing medical care for others,” Cooper said.
The Attorney General and the SBI also partner with Safe Kids North Carolina, the DEA and local law enforcement to sponsor prescription drug take back events. More than 8 million dosage units were collected at drug take back events in 2011.
North Carolinians can safely dispose of unused prescription drugs at events across the state March 18-24 during Operation Medicine Drop.
Visit ncdoj.gov for more information.
Source: North Carolina Department of Justice.
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