An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported that a Long Island Grand Jury’s report has implicated physicians and pharmacists for the epidemic of prescription drug abuse over the past ten years. The grand jury initiated their investigation after the killing of four people in a drugstore robbery, and their findings suggest that the problem stems from the over-prescription of painkillers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, et.al.) 26 people have already been indicted in the prescription drug trade in Suffolk County, Long Island.
The report was the first to directly challenge doctors’, pharmacists’ and drug makers’ motives and competence, although earlier this year NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s task force showed that 31% of all painkillers in New York City were prescribed by 1% of the city’s doctors. In a news conference in Happaugue, New York, Suffolk County D.A. Thomas Spota said, “The conclusion is that the genesis of the current prescription pill and heroin epidemic lies squarely at the feet of the medical establishment.”
Over the past decade, arrests in Suffolk County related to prescription drugs soared from 1.5% in 2001 to 17.4% in 2011. Similarly, prescription drug related DUIs increased from 15% to 48% over the same period.
The grand jury’s report concluded with a series of recommendations to New York State lawmakers, including a mandate that doctors be required to enter all prescriptions into a state electronic database.