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New Jersey Attorney General Cracks Down on Prescription Drug Abuse

New Jersey's Office of The Attorney General is expanding the state's primary enforcement department in an attempt to curb prescription drug abuse.

The Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is increasing its sit-in pharmacists from nine to 13, adding two investigators to its drug-diversion department and bringing in three more investigators who double as nurses within its quality of healthcare section, according to the Record. The changes come amid concern that abuse of drug prescriptions and distribution is on the rise.

NJ Focus on Prescription Drug Crimes

In 2011, the DCA finished 64 investigations into purported indiscriminate drug prescriptions, unlawful distribution and diversion, says the report. Figures show that there were 7,238 admissions of prescription painkiller abuse to New Jersey-based substance abuse treatment programs in 2010, more than twice the number of cases reported in 2007.

Now DCA director Thomas R. Calcagni said he had wanted to increase the DCA's use of undercover investigations for about a year.

On top of the staff additions to the DCA, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced the development of a computer program designed to help identify healthcare workers, pharmacists and patients who wrongfully acquire or disburse prescription drugs. According to an agency spokesperson, the DCA also relies on law enforcement for some of their undercover investigations.

The DCA heads all of the state's licensing boards for medical professionals. In its position, the agency has the power to bring civil lawsuits against abusers of drug distribution and prescription privileges.

A drug charge is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. Those convicted of fraud and illegal possession or distribution of prescription drugs face hefty fines and prison time, ranging from 18 months and $25,000 to a maximum penalty of $300,000 and 20 years imprisonment depending of the drug amount.

If you have been charged with a New Jersey drug offense, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you protect your rights.

Source: "N.J. Attorney General Expands Efforts Against Prescription Drug Abuse," NorthJersey, 1-30-12.

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