The rise in prescription drug abuse has spawned a few different responses from the government, including a proposal by the FDA to make abuse-deterrent formulations of narcotics, and now GPS tracking devices in stock bottles.
The idea is to have a way for law enforcement to quickly find stolen drugs — before crooks have the chance to repackage them.
'Decoy bottles' fitted with tracking devices
A report in the Chicago Tribune mentions a program in New York where police are asking pharmacies to put “decoy bottles” on their shelves. These containers, which look the same as the real deal, would be fitted with GPS tracking devices and function as bait for would-be thieves. The purpose is to combat New York’s rampant rise in pharmacy theft – both at gunpoint and by way of late-night burglary.
This follows new rules instituted by Mayor Bloomberg which limit emergency room issued pain medications to a three-day supply. It’s the same objective: limiting how many prescription narcotics make it onto the street.
'Operation Safety Cap' may lead police to stash houses
When asked whether publicizing the initiative would just reveal the secret to addicts, one pharmacist interviewed said that addicts simply don’t care. They don’t care about being recorded stealing on cameras or the risk of getting caught. All they care about is getting the drugs.
Ray Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, was quoted as saying, “One of our own retired police officers who became addicted to the pills after incurring an injury on the job began robbing drug stores at gunpoint.”
Police believe the new GPS tracking, called “Operation Safety Cap,” may lead them to stash houses rather than lower level dealers, and that would offer opportunities for a major interdiction.
Potential unintended consequence
There may be an unintended consequence, though. There seems to be a trend emerging whenever access is restricted to black market prescription narcotics – addicts sometimes turn to heroin as a cheaper, more powerful substitute, shifting usage patterns from prescriptions to street drugs.