In the wake of the gruesome Long Island pharmacy murders which saw four innocent people gunned down in a prescription drug robbery, Senator Chuck Schumer is seeking to restrict the number of painkillers doctors may prescribe and increase the penalties for those who steal them. "If the events of last week don't wake us up to the severity of the problem, I don't know what will," Schumer told reporters. "The problem is more serious these days than heroin, than crack, than methamphetamine." Prescription drug abuse has increased 400% in the last decade, and doctors wrote 48% more prescriptions for narcotics in 2009 than in 200, the Daily News reports. Pharmacy robberies have surged 81% since 2006.
Schumer's bill would mandate training for physicians on the signs of prescription drug abuse, and double the penalties up to 20 years in prison for selling, transporting, and stealing medication like oxycodone and vicodin. Schumer is co-sponsoring legislation with West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, whose state has the nation's highest rate of drug deaths. More people in West Virginia die of drug overdoses than from car accidents. Notably absent from Schumer's announcement is a push for drug treatment, as the number of those who seek help with a prescription drug addiction has markedly increased in the last decade.