W Va. Sheriffs Working to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

W Va. Sheriffs' Association Launches Attack Against Prescription Drug Abuse

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The West Virginia Sheriffs' Association is working to close the "cash loophole" in prescription drug purchases.

93% of people who obtain prescription drugs, do it through a national data system, that identifies the prescriber, the doctor, and the medication. But they say the other seven percent account for this "cash loophole"  

Seven percent of people pay cash only, leaving no trail or record of their transactions. Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler wants to know who is purchasing these drugs, as well as when they are being purchased and where. He said the problem is even affecting your wallet.

"Every citizen is paying for it," Butler said.  "There are higher prices in the grocery store, Walmart, Target, etc...because you have to mark up the prices to cover the shoplifting."

According to Butler, the overdose deaths in West Virginia have quadrupled in the last ten years.

Sheriffs departments have created an alliance across the state, and are working towards enacting some laws to close the loophole.

The Sheriffs' Association says they want federal lawmakers to institute a policy that would have cash transactions routed through the national data system. They say this would allow real-time alerts to be provided to law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

One of the reasons they say it's so important to keep track of this data nationally is because the majority of West Virginia's population lives within 30 minutes of the state border,and the data system could help block illegal cross-border doctor shopping.

According to the Sheriff's Association, pharmacies fill more prescriptions per capita in West Virginia than in any other state. They also say drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for West Virginians under age 45, and more than 152,000 West Virginians have prescription drug problems.

Rudi Raynes-Kidder, Executive Director of the West Virginia Sheriffs' Association , said the association will reach out to the state's congressional delegation in coming weeks.



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