State cracks down on prescription drug diversion, theft

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(Host) Medical patients are increasingly being targeted by thieves who want to steal their narcotics or other prescription drugs.

Authorities say drug theft and drug diversion is a growing problem in residential care facilities and at hospice patients’ homes.

Linda Purdy is an assistant Vermont attorney general who prosecutes Medicaid fraud and residential abuse.

She says the number of complaints and the number of arrests for drug diversion have doubled.

(Purdy) “Sadly, it’s very widespread. Prescription drug abuse is on our streets, in our homes and it’s in our health care facilities.” (:09)

(Host) Vermont has gone after medical personnel who take drugs from patients – or take a patient’s prescribed drug and replace it with something else.

The attorney general’s office also has produced a video about the issue for health care and law enforcement professionals.

Purdy says authorities are reluctant to publicize the problem for fear of making it worse.

(Purdy) “We hope that by more education, by more training, by more law enforcement intervention that we will be able to stem the tide in some ways of this really terrible problem in our health care facilities.” (:12)

(Host) Purdy says patients can protect themselves by keeping close track of their medicine – or even locking it up.

Purdy spoke on VPR’s “Vermont Edition.”


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