Painkiller Epidemic Update: Pennsylvania Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise

In the past week alone, there have been three news stories covering armed pharmacy robberies in Pennsylvania. My original goal in launching SWALLOW was to raise awareness of what I refer to as the painkiller epidemic. I continue to be very concerned about this issue, and will include regular updates on this blog.

6/9 Rite Aid Pharmacy; Butler, PA
http://kdka.com

  • Police say a man who robbed a Butler Township pharmacy wasn’t after money – he wanted narcotics.

6/9 Rite Aid Pharmacy; Johnstown, PA
http://www.tribune-democrat.com

  • Johnstown police captured the suspect in an armed robbery at Rite Aid Pharmacy.

6/2 CVS Pharmacy; Scranton, PA
http://www.thetimes-tribune.com

  • Christopher Quinlan… [allegedly] handed a pharmacist a note demanding that she hand over all the oxycodone or he would kill her or cause serious injury.

While heroin and methamphetamine addiction garner the lion’s share of the traditional media’s attention these days—with the exception of the Rush Limbaugh story a number of years ago, painkiller addiction has gotten comparatively little press. In the meantime, we are seeing more and more desperate acts, by more and more desperate addicts, some even going so far as robbing pharmacies for narcotic painkillers—in particular OxyContin.

What makes this disparity in coverage even more troubling is that there is another very important side to the painkiller story. My contention is that many (not all) painkiller addicts have unfortunately come about their addiction in a “non-traditional” fashion. The average story (and there are many variations) involves a post-op pain management patient being prescribed huge quantities of narcotics, and then for one reason or another abruptly losing access to these highly addictive drugs—but not before acquiring a powerful heroin-like chemical dependence. The reasons for this range from losing insurance (painkillers are expensive), to being abandoned by their physician for showing signs of addiction (imagine!).

Many of these individuals have little prior history of drug use or abuse, and suddenly find themselves very sick, very scared, and very desperate.

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2 Responses to “Painkiller Epidemic Update: Pennsylvania Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise”

  1. maskattish Says:

    I believe everybody in the world should have guns. Citizens should have bazookas and rocketlaunchers too. I believe that all citizens should have their weapons of choice. However, I also believe that only I should have the ammunition. Because frankly, I wouldn’t trust the rest of the goobers with anything more dangerous than string.–Scott Adams, “Dilbert” cartoonist

  2. Not Another Sequel! “Drugstore Cowboy” Author James Fogle Arrested for Pharmacy Robbery (Again). « S W A L L O W Says:

    […] Pennsylvania Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise […]

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