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Prescription drug fraud: New Jersey drug crime du jour?

Just a few miles from Bergen County, police in Cedar Grove say the illegal use of prescription drugs is the number one problem in the town.

According to NorthJersey.com, the police department there shows that from 2009 to 2010, there was a 42 percent increase in arrests for prescription fraud.

This surge in pharmaceutical drug crimes has law enforcement officials there concerned, according to the article.

Last year, there were 10 arrests for prescription drug fraud. The year before that, just seven and in 2008, there were only two arrests.

Officials there say abuse of pharmaceuticals extends to the roads, too, with about 10 percent of driving while intoxicated arrests involving prescription drugs.

"Cedar Grove appears to be following the national trend in the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs," a police department spokesperson said.

In nearby Verona, the police chief said the most popular drug today is oxycodone, the powerful prescription painkiller. He said it's mainly being abused by people between the ages of 18 and 30.

"They're the ones who are working and have money to buy it," the chief said.

A Verona pharmacy owner said the faltering economy might be a factor in the surge in pharmaceutical abuse. If people can convince a doctor to prescribe powerful drugs, they can turn around and illegally sell the narcotics at a hefty mark-up.

He said there's also been a rash of people forging prescriptions; something he's trained his employees to be aware of.

"We don't fill anything that looks even a little bit suspicious," the owner said.

It must be noted that a conviction selling prescription drugs, or illegal possession of them, or a conviction for prescription fraud or forgery, can result in a prison sentence and significant fines.

Source: NorthJersey.com: "Prescription drug abuse still on the rise in towns" by Mollie Gray: July 7, 2011

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