Ann Marie Hahr, representing the Orangetown Substance Abuse Committee, asked the Orangetown Council to support legislation that would make it more difficult to improperly acquire prescription drugs.
Bill No. A08320, which is currently only in the New York State Assembly and not the Senate, would create a system for tracking the prescription and dispensation of controlled substances.
Currently, a person can go to one doctor for a prescription and fill it at one pharmacy, then go to another doctor to get a prescription for the same drug and have it filled elsewhere and neither pharmacy would be able to track it. This allows for misuse of the controlled substances.
The Substance Abuse Committee is lobbying local officials to support the bill, including the town council, Rockland County Legislator John Murphy (R-Pearl River), State Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland), Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City).
"We would like to see a resolution next week stating that the Orangetown Board and Substance Abuse Committee support passing of the legislation," Hahr said. "The passing of this bill will prevent patients from receiving prescribed mediations from multiple doctors and pharmacies within a short time period. This will mandate providers to check a patient's prescription history before filling prescriptions and also invalidate stolen prescription plans."
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The Orangetown Council holds its next regular meeting 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
"We know there have been tragedies in our communities," Supervisor Andy Stewart said. "The police say this is the ongoing drug abuse issue of the day, people using false prescriptions and creating dangerous cocktails of different pills."
That issue will also be a focal point May 10 at a presentation hosted by the District Attorney's Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force entitled Prescription Drug Symposium: Everything You Need to Know about RX Drugs in Rockland County. There are two sessions, one at 8:30 a.m. and another at 7 p.m., both in the Rockland Community College Technology Center's Ellipse Room.
They keynote speaker will be Steven Kipnis, MD, FACP, FASAM, who is the Medical Director of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Ann
Other speakers in the three-hour presentation include Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe, Chris Goldrick, Sheriff Lou Falco and Anne Calajoe.
"I'd like to invite the town board to the prescription drug symposium May 10 at RCC," Hahr said. "Last year the town of Orangetown lost three young men to some form of prescription medication."
The issue goes beyond intentional deceptions by drug users. Sometimes, the problem is simply left over medication that people might keep in their homes that somebody else might take.
"I had two knee operations," Orangetown Councilman Denis Troy said. "They gave me 200 Vicodins and I took one. It sits here in the medicine cabinet. Adults have stuff laying around and don't think about it. Unfortunately, young people do think about it and use these things.
Hahr also shared a copy of a palm card that would warn people of the dangers of the drugs in their medicine cabinets and the importance of proper disposal, which was the idea of the Substance Abuse Committee, South Orangetown Community Awareness of Substance Abuse (SOCASA) and the district attorney's office. She said they have not taken the idea to local pharmacies yet.
Among the warnings included:
- Medications are highly addictive and should be taken as prescribed by your physician. You are responsible for your prescription drugs.
- Keep your prescription drug in a safe place where teens and children have no access.
- If you share your prescription drugs with others who don't have a prescription you can be prosecuted (Intent to Distribute).
- If you give your child/teen access to your prescription drug you can be charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
Hahr also pointed out the importance of SOCASA's work.
"SOCASA has been very successful in getting grants, and that goes to things like the symposium," Troy said. "You're doing a great job."