Crackdown on dangerous drugs could slow Vt. pharmacy visits - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Crackdown on dangerous drugs could slow Vt. pharmacy visits

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Jim Marmar Jim Marmar
Lt. Art Cyr Lt. Art Cyr

At this shop in the picturesque town of Woodstock, and for those who work in 140 pharmacies scattered throughout Vermont, the workload is about to increase. New requirements are set to take effect, most in July.

Jim Marmar runs the Woodstock Pharmacy and is the executive director of the statewide Pharmacists' Association.

"You gotta convince me that this is going to have some type of effect in Vermont," Marmar said.

The sweeping drug overhaul bill still awaiting Gov. Peter Shumlin's signature will require patients picking up prescriptions or other behind-the-counter medications like Sudafed to provide a photo ID. It will also mandate pharmacists check customers against networked databases for recent purchases or refills.

But Marmar says the drug problems bloomed over time, and says it may have been simpler to crack down on over-prescribing docs and making problem cold meds available by prescription only.

"It's going to take more than just checking someone's ID in order to reverse this trend," he said.

"It will mean a tremendous tool for us in the investigative process in those types of cases," Burlington Police Lt. Art Cyr said.

Cyr expects the changes will bring more cases to light. He concedes new regs won't completely cure the problem, but should force those buying cold meds to synthesize meth to give their real names on checkout.

Court documents indicate a pair of recently-raided alleged meth cooks in Burlington only once used their real names when purchasing restricted meds at various pharmacies.

But the change will also mean a new requirement for investigators.

"We need to have more info other than just going in and taking a random look," Cyr said.

Police will only be able to inquire about specific individuals, so they'll need to be suspicious of someone before the database reveals any medical secrets.

Marmar says though he has issues with pieces of the bill, overall he's in support of the measure.

Police spokespeople say they would prefer more access to information, but also felt the positive in the bill far outweighed their limited issues with the reforms.

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