Attorneys General push for tamper-proof drugs

Used correctly, prescription pain killers can provide much needed relief to people who are in pain.  However, abuse them and the consequences can be deadly.

"Once they get hooked on it they can't stop and they'll sell their mother," said pharmacist Marla Gibbens.

Law enforcement officials say prescription drug abuse is on the rise. That's not surprising to Gibbens.  She says at least one person a day comes in her store attempting to get pain pills with a fake prescription or false information. When that happens, she and her staff usually notify law enforcement.

"We see it a lot across the board despite economic background, educational, race anything like that. We see prescription abuse in every facet of the community," said East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Informational Officer Casey Rayborn Hicks.

It has become such a problem, that attorneys general from 47 states, including Louisiana, have asked the federal government to require that drug companies make more pain pills tamper proof with a special coating to make it harder to crush the pill.

Some name brands like OxyCotin already use that coating.  The request is targeting generic brands that are not tamper-proof.

When taken correctly, the pain medicine in a pill is released slowly.  Addicts will often crush the pills in order to snort or inject them, releasing the medicine all at once. That can trigger a fatal overdose.

"Breaking an OxyCotin tablet alone, an extended release OxyCotin, you are subjecting yourself to death. Every time," said Gibbens.

When it comes to the medicine a pharmacy sells, it's as valuable to them as money is to a bank, and pharmacists suggest that you treat it the same way. If you have a prescription and you have extra pills, don't leave them lying around.

"You need to dispose of that in a proper way. Don't leave that lying around for just in case or maybe later because that's when your kids get in your cabinets they may come across that," said Hicks.

Law enforcement will host a "drug take back day" in April, where you can dispose of any unused pills so they don't fall in the wrong hands.

That event will be at the Ochsner Medical Center located at 17000 Medical Center Drive on April 27, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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