HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pulaski Hopes Fingerprint System Will Stamp Out
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jul 2001
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2001 Roanoke Times
Author: Jenn Burleson

Police Provide Kits To Town's 6 Pharmacies


The system's manufacturer said Pulaski is the only town using the invisible 
fingerprint system to target OxyContin abuse.

Pulaski pharmacies plan to strike back at illegal OxyContin users with a 
few dabs of invisible ink.

The Pulaski Police Department is providing the six pharmacies in town with 
fingerprint kits. Pharmacists will ask customers requesting OxyContin 
prescriptions to dip their forefinger in invisible ink then stamp it on 
special paper. The prints will be attached to the prescriptions and kept at 
the pharmacy.

If officers find out that a prescription has been stolen or falsified, they 
can identify a suspect from the prints. Officers hope the fingerprints will 
curb people from stealing or writing false prescriptions for the highly 
addictive drug.

When abused by addicts who crush the pills and then snort or inject the 
powder, OxyContin is the pharmaceutical equivalent of heroin. Since 1998, 
37 people west of Roanoke have died of overdoses attributed to oxycodone, 
the active ingredient in OxyContin.

The fingerprint system, manufactured by the South Carolina-based company 
CrimeBite, is already used in several grocery stores before payroll checks 
are cashed. If a check comes back as counterfeit or stolen, management can 
find the perpetrator through their fingerprint.

Lydia del Rossi, president of CrimeBite, said Pulaski is the only town she 
knows of that is using the invisible fingerprint system to target OxyContin 
abuse. Some psychiatrists in Louisiana use the system when they disperse 
narcotics in Louisiana.

But OxyContin isn't the only drug officers are worried about. Fingerprints 
may also be taken before several other narcotics are administered. 
Pharmacists will meet with officers July 18 to decide how the kits will be 

"If we take just one or two bad bottles off the street a month then we've 
accomplished a lot," said Detective Marshall Dowdy. "I feel like we're 
making progress, but I also feel like sometimes it's a never-ending battle."

It's not clear how many cases of false prescriptions occur in the town. 
Pulaski Kroger pharmacist Leslie King said she knows of very few occasions 
where someone has stolen and filled a prescription. But she is interested 
in fingerprinting additional customers to make sure the right people get 
their medications.

"Once that fingerprint is there, it's hard to say you didn't do it," King 
said. "I don't know if it will cut down on people who are using it, but 
maybe it will make people realize it is a felony."

As part of the program, officers are also talking to residents about which 
medications are a hot commodity and what they can do to protect their 

Statistics are not available from the Police Department, but Crime 
Prevention Officer Vicky Frazier said the rate of larcenies has increased 
since OxyContin come into the area. Police statistics show that between 
January and June of this year there have been 1,800 drug-related cases in 
the town of 9,500 people.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens