Proposed Law Takes Aim at Stolen Prescription Drugs

A proposed law, still under consideration by Congress, would give law enforcement officials more options with which to punish those who steal prescription drugs.

According to the Associated Press, the bill, if signed into law, would levy more severe penalties against people convicted of stealing pharmaceuticals and give law enforcement officers the ability to use wiretaps to track them. The bill would also bring pharmaceutical theft under the umbrella of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.

According to the AP story, the value of pharmaceutical thefts has jumped 350 percent since 2007. A recent case, too, has made the public, and lawmakers, aware of how serious these crimes can be. In 2010, $75 million worth of drugs was stolen from a Connecticut warehouse used by Eli Lilly. This ranked as the largest theft of prescription drugs ever.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer earlier this year promoted plans to reduce the number of prescription drug thefts in New York, as well as across the country, according to the television station WKBW.

The proposed legislation would increase the penalties for individuals and organizations that knowingly purchase or obtain stolen medical products and then sell them to others, WKBW reported.

The proposed federal legislation would also criminalize the storing or transporting of stolen medical products. It would make changing the labels on medical products a criminal act, too.

Lawmakers cite statistics from the National Drug Intelligence Center, noting the $184 million worth of prescription drugs in the U.S. last year, as a sign that this legislation is necessary. Similarly, the Office of National Drug Control Policy has labeled the abuse of prescription drugs as the fastest-growing drug problem in the country.

If passed, this legislation will give law enforcement officials even more tools to track and arrest those suspected of stealing prescription drugs. People who are facing drug charges should not face them alone. Working with an experienced attorney is one of the best ways to make sure a person's rights are protected in the criminal process.