Narcotics removed from pharmacies following robberies

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Narcotics that have been stolen in recent armed robberies in the Grand Strand are no longer being kept in stock at some CVS pharmacies. Customers at those pharmacies have seen signs recently letting them know two forms of Oxycodone will have to be ordered because they are not available in the store immediately.

The signs read, "Due to unfortunate circumstances we no longer carry Oxycontin or Roxicodone. If you have a prescription for it, we will order it. We will need three to five business days."

Oxycontin is a brand name for the slow-release form of Oxycodone. Roxicodone is a brand name for the original, quick-release form of Oxycodone. Both drugs are prescription pain medications.

Dr. John Charles at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center said the medications are relatively expensive, and they can be additive. As a result, a black market for the drugs has developed.

"These things have some street value," Charles said.

Charles said some patients who develop an addiction try to find multiple doctors to prescribe the medication. There are also recreational users of the drugs who get high from the medications. Charles said when Oxycontin is crushed it can also provide a quick reaction, so it and other forms of Oxycodone are equally valuable to abusers and black-market sellers of the drugs.

"They're probably people who are going in and stealing it and then turning around and - with a substantial mark-up - selling it on the street either to recreational users or people who are heavy users," Charles said.

Some customers at CVS stores do not seem to mind the drugs being taken off the shelves. In fact, some customers like the decision.

"I think it's safer not to include those drugs in here because innocent customers could get caught up in these kinds of robberies," commented Fran Brida.

Customer Ethel Kober also sees the advantage of keeping the drugs out stores. She believes it will increase safety for customers and the pharmacy staff.

"It makes plenty of sense," Kober said. "They too have a job, and they're trying to do their job. If you have somebody coming in taking drugs they don't have prescriptions for, that kind of makes it difficult for everyone to come in and get prescription medications."

Charles said he does not like the idea of restricting the availability of useful medications. However, he understands the decision too.

"Why would you stock something that's going to put your staff at risk when it's probably not a big part of your product line anyway?" he asked rhetorically.

Several other pharmacists and company spokespersons said other pharmacies in the Grand Strand have not taken the drugs out of their stores. They said they do take special security precautions when it comes to narcotics though.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)