Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies dropped the hammer on the illegal prescription drug trafficking biz this morning in a sweep that netted nearly 100 arrests, including two doctors and one nurse practitioner.
The most arrests occurred on Staten Island, where law enforcement officials say prescription drug abuse has achieved “epidemic” status.
“These arrests represent a substantive change in how we are tackling the prescription pill epidemic on Staten Island — by going after criminals who use doctors like drug dealers,” Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan says. “But they are also indicative of how pervasive and corrosive this problem is, and the lengths to which pill addicts will go to fuel their habits and to which pill dealers will go to fill their pockets.”
In all, this morning’s sweep netted 98 arrests, including doctors Eric Jacobson, of Great Neck, and William Conway, of Baldwin.
Jacobson’s been charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycontin to people he knew werediverting the pills to addicts. For a price, Jacobson would write prescriptions for pill dealers, who would then sell them to pill-poppers. Even after surrendering his DEA registration that authorized him to prescribe controlled substances, federal prosecutors say he used other health practitioners to continue to sell prescriptions to drug dealers.
As for Conway, the feds say that between January 2009 and November of 2011 he wrote 5,554 prescriptions — 782,032 pills — for oxycodone to “patients” he knew were addicted to the drug. In many cases, he did so without requiring the “patients” to undergo a medical examination.
The sweep comes on the heels of a 98-page grand jury report released last month by Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota about prescription drug abuse on Long Island. The report was in response to the “Father’s Day Massacre,” when a pill junky murdered four people while robbing prescription painkillers from a pharmacy in Medford. As we noted last month, the
report ain’t pretty.
According to the report, Suffolk County has 70 percent more Oxycontin prescriptions than the average of any other state.
The report also finds that overdose victims with Oxycontin in their blood has risen 266 percent since 2004.
Since 1996, the Suffolk County Drug Court program has seen a 1,136 percent increase in opioid pill abuse.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who has taken the lead in battling the prescription epidemic in New York — thinks he has the solution to the state’s prescription pill problem.
We told you about Schneiderman’s I-STOP (Internet System for Over-Prescribing Act) program back in March. His plan would create an online database for prescription drugs that he says will crack down on “doc-shopping” and forged prescriptions by giving pharmacists the technology to track prescription drugs in real time over the Internet.
He says a “real time system to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists” is essential to putting an end to prescription drug trafficking.
Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he — and several legislative leaders — are on board with Schneiderman’s plan.
“This is a major victory for the people of New York. With I-STOP, we will create a national model for smart, coordinated communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who
need help. I applaud the Governor, Assembly and Senate for agreeing to take action and curb the prescription drug crisis that has impacted families in every corner of this state. Now, New York will be a national leader in protecting the public from the devastating consequences of
prescription drug abuse.”
For more on Schneiderman’s plan, click here.