Mississippi pharmacists are learning they can be law enforcement's best weapon against prescription drug abuse. At a meeting in Biloxi this weekend, pharmacists from across the state got insight on what they can do to curb the drug addiction problem in their communities and home towns.
The Mississippi Pharmacist Association has a lot of reason to be concerned. Statistics show that of the top 20 drugs that send drug abusers into the emergency room, only four of them are street drugs--the rest are prescription.
Some pharmacists say they want to be part of the solution. As the war on prescription drug abuse escalates, more pharmacists are realizing there's a frontline at their checkout counter.
Wynn Sanders runs a pharmacy in Greenville. "Pharmacists are acutely aware of the drug abuse problem and they're certainly aware of all the drugs that are going to be abused. We can try to take a proactive role when we're filling our prescriptions to make sure and feel real comfortable."
On Saturday, pharmacists took part in an education program that urges them to be more proactive against drug abuse by developing better relationships with police.
"Many times pharmacists/doctors get information about people that may have abuse problems and they can assist law enforcement and also get the people help," said Mac Gonzalez, who works as a liaison between police officers and people in the medical field.
Pharmacists have another important resource in each other. A web site called RX patrol allows them to give tips about robberies which police can use to look for links and maybe solve crimes.
"They are able to put information on the web site that sends alerts out to law enforcement and this is the first proactive law enforcement tool that is being utilized in the United States," said Gonzalez.
Many pharmacists say they're ready to lend a hand including John Read of Gautier. "There has to be a better working relationship with the bureau of narcotics, local law enforcement as well as the physicians, because physicians are getting duped also."
In Harrison County alone 50 people died last year of prescription drug overdoses.