Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pharmacies Increase as Robber's Target

There have been almost twice as many pharmacy robberies this year in Columbus as bank robberies, and police say OxyContin is the main target.

As of yesterday, there have been a record 56 pharmacy robberies this year compared with 29 bank robberies.

"It's just that the street value of OxyContin is so high; it's just become a lucrative target," Columbus Police Sgt. James Jardine said.

The highly additive pain medication sells on the street for as much as $80 a pill, Jardine said.

On Thursday night, three gunmen entered a West Side Walgreens before closing, and one of them went to the back of the store and bent a metal barrier in front of the pharmacy.

The man pointed a gun at the pharmacist and demanded all of the OxyContin, police say.

Earlier in the week, a father and son were arrested in connection with seven area pharmacy robberies. Ricky Taylor, 47, of Akron, and Tarail Taylor, 24, of Columbus, are accused of stealing OxyContin from mainly chain drugstores, and each has been charged with one count of robbery.

"It does happen in other markets," said Vivika Vergara, a spokeswoman for Walgreens.

"These things are happening, but it's not like an epidemic."

Vergara said Walgreens employees are trained on how to handle robberies. The drugstore chain also has upgraded its video surveillance to capture higher-quality images.

Police are working with pharmacies, Jardine said, to share information and work together to catch criminals.

Jardine said the drug is easy to sell on the streets.

Ernest E. Boyd, executive director of the Ohio Pharmacists Association, said that in the late 1970s robbers sought out amphetamines.

"These things tend to run in cycles," he said. "Sometimes we see lots of forgeries, sometimes we see these."

Back then, however, the robbers likely were junkies who stole the drugs for themselves.

"The dealers are actually doing the robbing now because they see a profit," Jardine said.

This is very sad that robbers would target pharmacies. It seems like nothing is safe anymore and thanks to Oxycontin, it has become much worse.


At Monday, October 27, 2008 9:04:00 AM, Anonymous Jared Combs said...

Folks, Oxycontin is NOT to blame for people OD'ing on narcotics, NOT to blame for pharmacies getting robbed, and NOT to blame for the epidemic of drug abuse in our nation.
Let's think rationally about why a man might rob a pharmacy before a targeting a bank. Shall we? Banks have security guards, top-of-the-line electronic surveillance equipment, and dye impregnated cash. Pharmacies have, at best, a camera or two.
Narcotics have been around for a long time and will continue to be around since they are extremely useful in treating patients with pain. The answer is not vilifying a particular drug or class of drugs. The answer is educating and properly treating addiction.
Want to read about the insanity of addiction when it happens to a pharmacist standing behind the counter holding the keys to the candy store? Check out my memoir: Incomprehensible Demoralization- An Addict Pharmacist's Journey to Recovery at Addcition can be successfully treated. I am clean and sober now for 8 years and Oxycontin is still on the shelves where I practice.


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