By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano has launched several initiatives in the war against prescription drug addiction and resulting violent pharmacy crimes.
“I’ve brought together professionals from various agencies to implement a multi-pronged approach to help mitigate the danger associated with the recent spurt of deadly pharmacy robberies,” said County Executive Mangano. “The safety and welfare of all of our pharmacists and pharmacy employees are a priority.”
After the Medford Pharmacy tragedy, County Executive Mangano formed a task force solely focused on the problem of prescription drug misuse and abuse. The task force includes treatment providers, law enforcement officials, representatives from recovery groups, county officials, pharmacists, dentists, doctors, physician’s assistants and mental health professionals.
Safety tips developed by the task force were sent to all registered pharmacists in Nassau County and the group plans to issue further recommendations by the end of the February. The recommendations will be such that Mangano can implement them on the local level or advocate for them on the state level, county officials said.
County law enforcement officials have stepped up their efforts to improve security at area pharmacies, Mangano said. Investigators have compiled a list of potentially “vulnerable pharmacies” that police can use on patrol. The list was generated by a review of the state’s Medicaid database for signs of fraud, criminal activity and doctor shopping, where suspected abusers visit multiple doctors and pharmacies.
Last week, County Executive Mangano joined United States Sen. Charles Schumer to call for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to issue guidelines and best practices to help local pharmacies establish better security measures and to share information the agency collects on pharmaceutical theft and crime with local law enforcement to help identify trends in pharmacy crimes. This initiative also calls for a proposed increase in the maximum sentence for pharmacy robberies and their related crimes to 20 years, per offense.
Last week, the Nassau County partnered with the FBI-sanctioned Long Island Pharmacy Crimes Task Force and together will host a security summit in February to advise pharmacy workers how they can better protect their businesses. Integral in this task force us the involvement of Perdue Pharma – the manufacturers of Oxycodone.
This week, County Executive Mangano announced that Nassau County’s nationally recognized and accredited Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) has 70 more spots available to accommodate individuals seeking help with drug addiction.