MINEOLA, N.Y., Jan. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. pharmacies may soon resemble banks with bulletproof glass, timed safes and silent alarms because of a trend of pain killer robberies, a U.S. senator says.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., notes in the last three years there have been about 1,800 pharmacy robberies nationwide. He is calling for a three-pronged approach to protecting drug stores from the growing problem he attributes to the increased use of illegally obtained prescription pain killers such as Oxycontin.
Schumer is calling for better security at pharmacies, local access to Drug Enforcement Agency data on pharmacy theft and tougher penalties to increase maximum sentences for pharmacy-related crimes to 20 years per offense.
In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schumer said: "The guidelines and regulations issued by the DEA to pharmacists do not meet the challenges faced by 21st century pharmacies and do not fully protect pharmacists from the awful violence prescription drug addicts are willing to inflict in order to steal schedule II narcotics and should be updated to reflect this frightening new reality.
"Therefore, I request that the DEA work with pharmacies to promulgate new guidelines to help encourage and create better security strategies as a deterrent to would-be thieves. As evidence that these strategies work, Washington state, after time sensitive safes and staggered inventories were introduced at many drug stores, saw pharmacy robberies drop in half from 2008 to 2010."