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Pharmacies Under Siege

Soaring numbers of prescription drug raids make working in a drugstore a dangerous business.


Pharmacies display signs to try to
protect themselves. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


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Pharmacies across the country have good reason to be on edge with a reported drastic surge in violent robberies involving mass quantities of narcotic painkillers and other controlled substances. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 688 armed pharmacy robberies involving controlled substances in the US in 2010: a 79% increase from 2006. New York has seen the biggest rise, with 30 in 2010—up from just four in 2006. Counties in Long Island have been hit hardest recently; two pharmacy robberies in the second half of 2011 caused six deaths. “I didn’t know when I got my pharmacist’s license I’d put my life on the line like a cop or soldier,” says Howard Jacobson, the owner of two Long Island pharmacies. A number of drugstores in the region have stopped stocking drugs like Oxycontin and posted signs stating that they don’t carry it. New York State Senator Charles Schumer called last week for better security and longer sentences for drugstore-related crimes. The makers of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharmacy, created RxPatrol in 2010, which tracks pharmacy crimes and offers $2,500 for information leading to arrests of drugstore robbers.

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