Prescription Drug Fraud Mushrooming - - The News for South Mississippi

Prescription Drug Fraud Mushrooming

Police say prescription drug abuse has mushroomed in the last decade. The drugs vary, but the most abused are pain pills.

"I think the medication that Jeb Bush's daughter had was an anti-anxiety drug, Zanex, which is very commonly used for anxiety but most of the medications that are forged are pain medications," Pharmacist Beau Harger said.

"They get on these drugs and they become addicted to them, and once they become addicted to them the doctor cuts them off and they have to resort to other ways of getting their drugs," Investigator Pat Pope of the Gulfport Police Department said.

Pope says one way is called doctor shopping, where you get multiple prescriptions for the same symptoms. Other ways include faking pain to get drugs, impersonating a doctor and calling in a prescription, and writing a bogus prescription or altering a prescription.

Pope says it's easy to uncover drug fraud. He says spotting forgery takes only minutes by just scanning through prescriptions.

"I've actually seen them where they've erased the prescription and torn the paper and they've actually added from say ten pills to 30 pills or 50 pills or you have sombody trying to get 100 Delaudid. No physician's going to write 100 Delaudid. That's just crazy."

"Signs to look for are quantity of pills, signature of the doctor, refills, some doctors put, there's only a limited number of refills you can put on some pain medications and that can sometimes be a red flag if they put too many refills on it," Harger said.

Pope says police don't always give drug fraud the priority it should get, he says it often gets overlooked as officers work more serious crimes. The penalty for drug prescription forgery is up to five years in prison.

By Marcia Hill

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