Cops and prosecutors say they need help putting the people who illegally sell non-controlled drugs in jail.
Right now, it is not illegal for someone to have tens of thousands of pills for health issues ranging from asthma to AIDS, said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, even though pricey AIDS medication is often sold on the black market.
Police can't arrest someone for simply having non-controlled prescription drugs, even if they have tens of thousands of pill ostensibly with the intent of selling them. Since it's not illegal to have those non-controlled prescription drugs, an arrest can only be made if the cops can catch the pills specifically being sold.
At a Council hearing yesterday, Brennan pushed for support for state legislation that would make it a misdemeanor to have 20 pills or pills worth more than $200.
Having more than 50 pills, or worth more than $500, would be a felony under the proposed legislation.
This would allow cops to arrest people dealing the medication, officials said.
Painkiller abuse 'skyrocketing'
In addition, it was also revealed at yesterday's hearing, that opiate painkiller abuse is "skyrocketing" in New York City, Brennan said.
Oxycodone prescriptions have increased 100 percent in the city since 2007, according to City Council testimony yesterday.
In 2011, nearly 2 million prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone were filled in New York City, or about one for every four New Yorkers.
Brennan said drug addiction is fueling thefts, such as a drug store robbery in East Harlem on April 12 where the shooter was killed.
"That wild gun battle was a reminder of the problem we face," Brennan said.
Doctors are part of the problem -- some sell prescriptions, cops said. But catching them can be tough.
"It's very hard to send in an undercover into a doctor's office and get on tape that the doctor somehow knew that he didn't need the pills," Queens assistant district attorney Philip Anderson said.
OD deaths 'soaring'
Overdose deaths are "soaring," Brennan said.
Deaths from painkiller overdoses increased by 20 percent from 2005 to 2009, from 2 per 100,000 New Yorkers to 2.4, according to Council statistics.
In that same time frame in Staten Island, that increase was 147 percent -- from 3 to 7.4 deaths per 100,000 New Yorkers.
A Brooklyn prosecutor told of a man who died of an overdose this year in Dyker Heights -- people were selling pills at the funeral, he said.