Pharmacies across the United States are experiencing an increased rate of theft involving painkillers. The increase rate of theft involving painkillers is related to an increase in the number of people addicted to the drugs and an increase in illicit demand where drug dealers resort to criminal acts to gain a greater supply.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the number of armed robberies at pharmacies increased 81 percent between 2006 and 2010. In 2006 the number of pharmacies that had been robbed was 380, and in 2010 that number increased to 686.
Oxycodone painkillers such as Roxicodone and Oxycontin are at the center of many of the pharmacy theft cases. Other painkillers such as hydrocodone-based painkillers like Norco and Vicodin are also highly desired. All of the desired painkillers are highly addictive and sell for as much as $80 per pill on the street.
After marijuana, prescription painkillers are the second most abused drug used illegally in the United States. Cases of illegal prescription painkiller overdoses have doubled between 2004 and 2008 rising from 144,644 to 305,885.
Though the majority of robberies do not hurt anyone, the number of robberies has risen as law enforcement authorities have focused their efforts on illegal prescription drug sales at pill mills and internet pharmacies. Authorities worry drug dealers are growing more vicious and desperate in response to the successful law enforcement efforts. Many small name pharmacies are being targeted.
An example of a brazen attack on a locally owned pharmacy occurred over the weekend. A neighborhood drugstore in Long Island, New York was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday. Before leaving with a backpack full of hydrocodone, the robber shot two customers, a store clerk and the pharmacist.
Source: The Associated Press, “AP Enterprise: Pharmacy robberies sweeping US,” 6/26/11