AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Maine's public safety commissioner says pharmacy robberies have become "an epidemic", and that's why he brought representatives of all the state's pharmacies together today to look for remedies.
So far this year, Maine has had 28 pharmacy robberies, more than in all of 2011. Public Safety Commissioner John Morris says the robberies are being driven by the increasing number of people addicted to prescription pain killers, in particular the drug Oxycodone. Police say most of the robberies are committed by people looking for drugs both to sell and to feed their own addictions. That, says Morris, makes it very hard to prevent the robberies. Both police and pharmacy representatives refused to reveal any details of their plans.
Both Morris and Col. Robert Williams, Chief of the Maine State Police, said the real problem is the addiction itself. "They need this drug," said Williams. "They're addicted to it and without it they feel they're going to die. So they'll go to any measure to get what they need. "
Both said the long-term answers to the problem will come from a special task force being led by the Attorney general. That group is working on strategies aimed at helping doctors, hospitals and pharmacies identify abusers of the drugs and find ways to reduce their use and availability.