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Gallipolis hosts education programs on prescription drug abuse

GALLIPOLIS — Forty-five law enforcement officers from Cabell, Logan, Hocking and Gallia counties in Ohio, and Mason county in West Virginia, attended an educational seminar in Gallipolis Tuesday, Aug. 18, to learn how to fight illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription medications. The seminar was sponsored by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, with additional educational support provided by pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma L.P.

Attendees included law enforcement officers from the Gallipolis City, Logan and Rio Grande Police Departments, the Cabell County and Gallia County Sheriff’s Offices, as well as agents from the Gallia County Common Pleas Probation Department, Gallipolis Municipal Court Probation, Hocking County Probation Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Kentucky State Police, West Virginia State Police, U.S. Probation Office in Columbus and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The education session was led by Landon Gibbs from Purdue Pharma’s Law Enforcement Liaison & Education Department. Gibbs has close to 30 years of law enforcement experience, including investigating the illegal trafficking (or “diversion”) of prescription medications.

The session covered the types of medications that are targets for theft, illegal sale and abuse, common methods of diverting prescription medications and the difference between lawful and unlawful prescribing by healthcare professionals.

Attendees also learned about what law enforcement officials can do to deter pharmacy theft. RxPATROL®, a program created and funded by Purdue Pharma L.P., helps pharmacists guard against robberies and burglaries and assists law enforcement efforts to catch pharmacy crime suspects. To date, law enforcement has used the program in combination with reward offers through local Crime Stoppers programs to catch more than 90 pharmacy theft suspects.

“Like other communities across the country, we’ve noticed that local trends in criminal activity are changing, with prescription drug abuse and diversion on the rise,” said Sheriff Browning of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. “We felt this training was a necessity for our local law enforcement community.”

Gibbs also discussed how the illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription medications can interfere with the care of people with serious illnesses and injuries.

“These medications have a legitimate purpose when used as directed,” according to Gibbs. “However, abusing prescription medications can have dangerous and even deadly consequences and can make it harder for people who need these medications to get them.”

The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office is urging everyone to take precautions to prevent prescription drug abuse.

“People should secure medications in the home, encourage friends and relatives to safeguard their medications and ask their pharmacist about how to properly dispose of medications they no longer need,” added Sheriff Browning.