Prescription drugs are making their way into Southwest Louisiana at an alarming rate. The influx is drawing the attention of several groups from law enforcement and legislators to doctors and even your local pharmacist.
Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon says: "The ability to go over to Houston to these pain management clinics and walk in then walk out with 120 Hydrocodones, 120 Zanbars, and 90 Somas is incredible."
It fuels an epidemic of indiscriminate proportions.
Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso says, "It does not hit a particular segment of our community poor, rich, minority, it really doesn't matter."
Dixon agrees, "Just this week a friend of mine's son died of an overdose."
With so many prescriptions making their way into Southwest Louisiana. Reputable medical providers are taking notice.
Randy Lavoi from Lane's Pharmacy says, "A lot of them are replicas of each other. They're printed prescriptions and they just sign the patients name, the doctor signs it and they come back to Louisiana to try to fill them."
Local dentist Harriet Hays Armstrong says, "It's just unethical and immoral what they're doing for the almighty dollar."
Mancuso notes that, "Without some changes in the laws why should they use recreational drugs or illegal drugs when they can get these and they're a lot more dangerous?" Dixon agrees, "We're legally killing our kids is what we're doing."
A state-wide push is being made to monitor prescriptions within Louisiana. The bill sponsored by representative Ronnie Johns takes affect this spring.
Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRossier says other legislation is also in the works. DeRossier: "It's a very comprehensive bill and it basically requires pharmacies to keep track of all of the prescriptions that are written by those pharmacies."
Vinton Police Chief Ricky Fox says, "A national monitoring system is many years, many years past due."