Local police break record for seized prescriptions

November 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

*Nov. 9, 2009
Task force director: Cooperation between states, laws necessary
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Local law enforcers seized more than 3,100 prescription pills last week, pushing them past their 2008 record of 7,244 illegal pills confiscated, according to Combined Anti-Drug Task Force statistics.

Director Lt. Billy Chapman says he thinks good law enforcement has contributed to those numbers, but there are other factors that are more important.

In 2007, 56 people overdosed on prescription drugs in Calcasieu Parish. In 2008, there were 33 overdoses. So far this year, there have been 23.

“It’s a gradual decrease as we get everything working together,” Chapman said.

“Everything” isn’t just in Louisiana. Chapman said about 95 percent of all illegal drugs in Southwest Louisi–ana are coming from southeast Texas.

“We have local and federal officers we speak to every week in Houston and Orange and Beaumont,” Chapman said. “But they (in Texas) don’t have the laws in place yet to make arrests.”

The laws he is referring to would be similar to doctor shopping, drug-monitoring and labeling statutes in Louisiana that have been passed in the past three or four years.

A doctor-shopping bill would make it a felony to have a prescription filled at multiple clinics or pharmacies within a certain amount of time.

The Louisiana prescription drug-monitoring law gave the go-ahead to set up a database — accessible only by doctors, pharmacists and law enforcers — that shows how much of a scheduled drug was prescribed to a person in the state.

The most-recent law passed in Louisiana was to change Soma from a legend drug to a schedule IV drug. As a legend drug, doctors and pharmacists did not have to report how much of the drug they were prescribing and dispensing.

“This was a big step, because Soma is part of that trilogy of pills — along with hydrocodone and Xanax — people are getting when they doctor shop.

These laws have made it difficult to get large quantities of prescription pills in Louisiana, but a large supply is available across the border in Texas.

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier had been working with Texas legislators to push through tougher regulations of prescription pills.

In this latest session, Texas passed a law that required all pain management clinics to be owned by a physician registered with the state board of health.

“Before, anybody could own a clinic and hire a doctor to run it,” Chapman said. “So what we were finding is the doctor was only there a few days a week and doctor’s assistants and nurses were writing the majority of the prescriptions.”

Texas’ Legislature meets every two years, instead of every year.

“People always need to understand that this takes time,” Chapman said. “When we got the prescription monitoring law passed, it took another year for us to get the database set up, and there is always something we can fix.”

A doctor-shopping bill will be presented in the next Texas Legislature.

“After that we’ll be rocking and rolling,” Chapman said. “The goal is always to stop it from even getting out there.”

link: http://bit.ly/3tkGTi

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