Tag Archives: legal

Prosecutors turn eye on dealers for pill OD deaths

gavelAs more painkiller addicts are turning to heroin due to the crackdown on prescription drugs, a growing number of law enforcement agencies are turning to rarely used drug laws to prosecute drug dealers for their role in causing overdose deaths, according to this article in the Associated Press.

Prosecutors in New Jersey, for example, are using the state’s “strict liability for drug death” statute, a first-degree crime that holds dealers and producers responsible for a user’s death and has a 20-year maximum sentence, the article says. They are also changing the way they investigate overdoses, which were once looked upon as accidents, immediately sending detectives to the scene of an overdose, and instructing paramedics to treat overdoses like crimes. In addition, coroners are being asked to order autopsies and preserve forensic evidence because proving that a death was caused solely by heroin can be difficult when other substances are present in a person’s system, the article says.

The number of people nationwide who have used heroin in the past year rose by 66% between 2007 and 2011, while the number of people who died of overdoses and had heroin present in their system jumped 55% from 2000 to 2010, the article notes, citing federal data.

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Lawyer David Michael Cantor on prescription drug addiction

In this guest post, Arizona lawyer David Michael Cantor weighs in on prescription drug addiction in his state and throughout the nation.

All over the country, prescription drug abuse is running rampant. Whether the drug of choice is OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, or any other painkiller or prescription medication, the fact is that people are abusing these drugs at an alarming rate. In a recent survey, over 7 million Americans reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 30 days. In 2006 and 2007, the Department of Health in Arizona reported a 41% increase in drug-related deaths among children and teenagers. The problem is becoming an epidemic and with more and more baby boomers getting older and having health issues, there are more pills available.

Prescription pain medication is one of the most widely abused drugs throughout the nation and in Arizona. In 2008, 10.5% of high school seniors in Arizona admitted to using a prescription pain reliever in the last 30 days. According to the DEA, 56% of teens believe prescription drugs are easier to get than illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are OxyContin, Codeine, Percodan, Percocet, and Vicodin.

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N.Y. prosecutor blames doctors for painkiller epidemic

A New York prosecutor is pointing the finger of blame at doctors for the prescription drug and heroin epidemic that has devastated the region, saying they overprescribed powerful painkillers – sometimes to known addicts, the Wall Street Journal reports. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said a grand jury report found that between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of drug-sale arrests related to prescription drugs in Suffolk increased to 17.4% from 1.5%, while intoxicated driving incidents linked to prescription drugs rose to 48% last year, up from 15% in 2001, according to the WSJ.

The grand jury was convened last year following the quadruple homicide that occurred at a Medford, N.Y. pharmacy.

New York has suffered brutally at the hands of the prescription drug addiction epidemic. Prescriptions for oxycodone in New York rose by 82 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general. Almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in the state in 2010, with an especially high quantity of prescriptions being written on Staten Island and in large areas of Suffolk County, the report says.

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