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Black Market For Prescription Meds Thriving In Metro Area

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Investigates
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Investigator Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)- Law enforcement authorities may be fighting an uphill battle against illegal prescription medication resales as a CBS4 Investigation found powerful prescription pain medications being resold on popular websites.

“They just help you get through the day,” said one man, who tried to sell a CBS4 producer the pain medication Tramadol.

He had advertised on Craigslist under “health and beauty.” The man agreed to meet a CBS4 undercover employee at a restaurant parking lot in Englewood.

“So I’ve got 50 here for you,” he said.

He explained he obtained the 50mg tablets from his doctor who prescribed them for pain.

“And it helps, it helps me a lot. I have back problems.”

He offered to sell them for $1 apiece.

Confronted by CBS4 about illegally selling prescription medication, the man said he knew what he was doing was against the law, but he was trying to make ends meet.

“I was just looking for a quick way out, a stupid way out,” he said. “It’s a rat race. I was just trying to jump up.”

In Lakewood, another man who was plying prescription pain killers on the website Topix.com agreed to meet at a park in Lakewood to sell the powerful prescription pain medication OxyContin.

“Is it good for pain?” the man was asked.

That’s what it is, a pain killer,” said the young man.

He told an undercover CBS4 Investigator that he was getting the OxyContin from a friend who had a doctor’s prescription.

When told he was the subject of a CBS4 Investigation, the drug dealer immediately ran away.

David Schiller, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said illegal trafficking of prescription medications has exploded in recent years.

“In fact last year more than 400 people died in Colorado from the abuse of prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed for them,” said Schiller. “That’s three times more than those that were killed by drunk drivers.”
Schiller said the explosion in the prescription pain med black market is partly due to the ease in obtaining such substances.

“They are easily accessible; you can get them from a medicine cabinet, a friend’s medicine cabinet, your grandparents. People are experimenting, they are trying them, they are free and they are dying,” said Schiller.

On January 17, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced 15 people were being charged with fraudulently acquiring, diverting and distributing large amounts of oxycodone in the Denver metro area and in Oklahoma,

“Crimes around prescription drugs are on the rise in Colorado and nationwide and we are seeing a proliferation of fraudulent schemes to obtain and divert oxycodone which is highly addictive,” said Suthers.

A national report on prescription pain medication abuse reported six percent of Coloradans admitted using prescription pain meds for nonmedical purposes in 2010 and 2011. Colorado was second only to Oregon in its rate of prescription painkiller abuse.

Schiller told CBS4 it is now easier to get heroin than oxycodone.

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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