When you think of drug crimes, substances like marijuana or cocaine likely come to mind. But law enforcement officials and legislators have their eyes on another type of drug: prescription painkillers like oxycodone.

The consequences of being charged with illegal prescription drug distribution or possession can be just as severe, if not harsher, than the consequences for common drug charges. Just last March police and prosecutors went after an alleged prescription drug ring in Staten Island, and now, legislators are working on making it easier for law enforcement to track possible prescription drug abuse.

Currently, pharmacies report the narcotic prescriptions that they fill two times each month. That data is periodically reviewed by law enforcement officials who are attempting to detect patterns related to patients or doctors who may be illegally using the drugs. Now, New York lawmakers want to toughen the reporting requirements of doctors and pharmacies.

If the new legislation goes into effect, doctors and pharmacies would need to report every time a prescription is written or filled for a controlled substance (like painkillers). That information could then be reviewed at any time by law enforcement officers attempting to target doctors, pharmacists or patients they suspect of being involved in the illegal sale of prescription drugs.

Despite that fact that New York already has a prescription drug monitoring program, the state Attorney General and the District Attorney in Staten Island have both said that they support the new legislation. They hope it will help them prosecute more individuals who are suspected of prescribing, selling or using prescription drugs illegally.

Source: Wall Street Journal, NY bill aims to stem prescription drug trafficking, Associated Press, 14 June 2011