PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – Port Chester and Rye Brook police departments can expect fewer forged prescriptions and medication disposal sites at their headquarters as a result of a new law that aims to crack down on prescription drug abuse. The law was signed Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"Too many families in New York State have suffered the loss of a teenager or youth as a result of prescription drug abuse," Cuomo said in a prepared statement. "With this new law, New York State is tackling this problem head-on, and giving law enforcement and medical professionals the tools they need to stop abuse before it occurs and crack down on offenders.
The legislation includes provisions to overhaul how medications are distributed and tracked throughout the state, including a prescription monitoring registry, called I-STOP, which Cuomo said would decrease opportunities for “doctor shoppers” to illegally obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors.
Lt. Eugene Matthews, spokesperson for the Rye Brook Police Department, had not yet heard of the law Cuomo signed earlier this week, but said more arrests are made for forged prescriptions than anything else. “I don’t know what the bill would do to curb that,” he said.
The new law will make New York one of the first states to move from paper prescriptions to a system of electronic prescribing for controlled substances. Electronic prescriptions would help eliminate medications given from forged prescriptions. It is also expected to help minimize medication errors due to misinterpretation of handwriting. According to the state, about 20 percent of 7,000 annual deaths caused by medication errors are due to illegible or poorly written prescriptions.
Matthews agreed that a database would curb “shopping around” for medications, particularly narcotics. “If I go to my doctor and he says, ‘I’m not going to give it to you anymore,’ and another doctor will give a prescription, is it against the law? It’s not. Now if Cuomo is looking to control that, that would be great,” said Matthews.
The law will also require health departments throughout the state to institute a program for safe disposal of unused medications based at police stations. In the past, state residents could only safely get rid of unused prescription drugs during an approved “take back” event.
Neither Rye Brook nor Port Chester police departments have a medication drop-off program in place. Lt. Jim Ladeairous, spokesperson for the Port Chester Police Department, said the county was giving out disposal boxes to put in police department lobbies, but Port Chester had yet to receive its box.
Ladeairous said when charges are made regarding prescription drug possession it’s typically during an arrest for something else. “Most of the time they have them in a cigarette box or wrapped in a piece of paper. We come across it when we do inventory of possessions,” he said. “They can get out of it in court if they actually bring the prescription with them.”