Law Enforcement Cracking Down on Legal Drug Abuse

By: Carol Robinson -- The Birmingham News
By: Carol Robinson -- The Birmingham News

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Law enforcement officers from around the state are in Birmingham today to learn how to better fight illegal use of legal drugs.

The two-day training for investigators will focus on prescription drug identification, lawful prescribing and prevention of diversion, pharmacy theft and pharmaceutical counterfeiting.

"The Birmingham region has long had a problem with Dilaudid and Oxycontin," said Birmingham police Deputy Chief Ray Tubbs. "The cases are complex, and often larger in scope than one individual."

The event is sponsored by the Birmingham Police Department, Purdue Pharma L.P. and the FBI. John Gilbride, a former DEA Special Agent in Charge in New York, heads the training for Purdue.

Drug diversion can range from large organized crime operations who hire people to use multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions to sell to the small-time street dealer. What the general public doesn't understand, they said, is how the actions of the illegal users affect those who actually need the drugs for legitimate pains and illnesses, including higher prices and doctors' reluctance to issue the medicine.

"It is,'' Gilbride said, "a serious public health problem."

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