NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In the wake of last week’s deadly shootings at a Medford pharmacy, Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the federal government to do more to fight prescription drug abuse.

On Sunday, Schumer said that the abuse of prescription narcotics is reaching levels not seen since the crack epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s.

“Once they become crazed, as you say, and they need these drugs they do lots of bad things,” said Schumer. “We’re trying to stop them from getting to that stage.”

Armed robberies at pharmacies rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. Nearly 2,800 drug store robberies occurred across the country since 2006, and the abuse of pain killers was up 400-percent in the past decade.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports: Schumer Says Tougher Penalties, More Education Needed To Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

“This is out of control man. I don’t know what the situation is. I guess people are hard up for money or whatever,” Art Citran of Medford told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

“Yeah this is terrifying. It’s right around the corner from me. It’s just crazy. It happened again,” said Lauren Wexler of Farmingville.

“It’s an epidemic,” said Michael Fox, a pharmacist on Staten Island who has been stuck up twice in the last year. “These people are depraved. They’ll kill you.”

Schumer said tougher penalties are needed to help combat prescription drug abuse and pharmacy robberies.

“We make the penalties for robbing pharmacies for these drugs not just an ordinary theft, but much more severe,” he said. “That would, A, when the criminals are caught they’re going to stay in jail a longer time and B, be a deterrent.”

Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Memonidies Medical Center, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, says pharmaceutical companies helped create the problem when they started pushing doctors to prescribe powerful painkillers to patients.

“Physicians were misinformed about the risks and believe it or not, were taught that these medications were not addictive if patients have legitimate pain,” said Kolodny. “That’s not true and now we have a severe epidemic across the country.”

The number of pills stolen nationwide went from 706,000 to 1.3 million. Thieves are overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin or Roxicodone, or hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin and Norco. Both narcotics are highly addictive.

Police in Suffolk County said they found 11,000 hydrocodone pills inside the Medford basement apartment of David Laffer and his wife Melinda Brady.

Laffer is accused of killing four people on Father’s Day at Haven Pharmacy in Medford. Police say he shot and killed a pharmacist, a 17-year-old store employee and two customers before filling a backpack with prescription drugs. Police say his wife drove the getaway car.

LINK: Read The Felony Complaint Against Melinda Brady

Killed were 45-year-old pharmacist Raymond Ferguson 17-year-old store clerk Jennifer Mejia, 71-year-old Bryon Sheffield and 33-year-old Jamie Taccetta.

Police said Laffer and Brady were “obviously under the influence” of narcotics when they were arrested on Wednesday.

Laffer is being held without bail on first-degree murder charges. Brady is being charged with robbery and obstruction, but more charges may be added when a grand jury convenes Monday. A judge set her bail at $750,000 cash or a $1.5 million bond. Both Laffer and Brady have pleaded not guilty.

It’s unclear if all the hydrocodone pills police say they found in their apartment came from Haven pharmacy.

PHOTOS: Haven Drugs Pharmacy Massacre

Assistant District Attorney John Collins called the shootings “the most cold-blooded robbery-homicide in Suffolk County history.”

The Medford pharmacy massacre is one of the reasons why Schumer is pushing legislation to address overprescribing of the drugs. He is co-sponsoring legislation introduced in by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that would require doctors to participate in specialized training to prescribe Oxycontin, Vicodin and other opiate-based narcotics. The training would help doctors better identify patients vulnerable to addiction.

What do you think about the proposed legislation? Do you think it will help? Sound off below in our comments section…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (30)
  1. how much does a prescription cost says:


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  2. Stuart says:

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  3. Wolf says:

    Typical policticians. Always wanting to create new laws to make themselves look good. We have too many laws in place as it is that are NOT enforced.

  4. Jackie Gleastone says:

    Has anyone looked into whether Schumer has accepted campaign contributions from any of these pharmaceutical companies? I’d bet my last wooden nickel that he has! The pharm companies have one of the most powerful lobby groups around.

    The system has been set up to have people move away from any “natural” type of healing/medication and only utilize their messed up chemicals.

    While marijuana prohibition did not start because of the pharm companies, the pharms are a MAJOR reason that the prohibition has not been lifted … they know this plant can do more good than their junk … with significantly less side effects!

    Let’s see what happens now with the Bill introduced by Ron Paul and Barney Frank seeking to end the Federal prohibition on Marijuana (notice how that bill hasn’t really gotten that much press?!?).

  5. jtorres says:

    Although the idea of keeping a tighter rein on prescription drugs sounds like a good idea, it is a pipe dream. There is plenty of regulation now and that has stopped no one. Criminals are smarter faster and much more creative and devious than our lawmakers and they always find a way around the law. They are the problem, not these painkillers. They are needed by those who have no relief by anything else. Yes, they are addictive and incredibly strong, but the next time you have to watch a loved one slowly die in agonizing pain, then you can talk about how these drugs are unnecessary

  6. Chuck You says:

    I’m calling for a crackdown on Schumer! Who’s with me?

  7. sally rogers says:

    Regardless of Schumer using this tragedy for political points….. You can stop the prescribing of these pills on new patients but what about helping those already hooked? What do you do about those people?? Doctors have been selling prescriptions for years. People sell their pills to addicts too. What about those horribly addicted already? This is synthetic heroin. Schumer is right, but we have a bigger problem with those already hooked. Not prescribing it will make them do more desperate things to obtain it.

  8. Onslow says:

    It is DISGUSTING to see Schumer trying to gain political points off this tragedy.

    Shame on Schumer … he has sunk to a new low.

    1. nyc says:

      I agree 100%. Why not go after the one million plus Illegal immigrants in New York draining the economy or the tens of thousands of Illegal guns on the streets of New York ? I am getting sick of polititions.

  9. Siggy says:

    When did Schumer get is medical degree?

  10. Frank Furter says:

    I was wondering how long it would take this feckless blowhard chime in and exploit this vicious crime for his own gain. No matter how hard you try chuckie, you are and always will be rather irrelevant.

  11. Frank Hunt says:

    Hey Upchuck her boyfriend shot the people, not the drug user

  12. KatKat says:

    Putting blame on the pharmaceutical companies is another way to extort money from them for political purposes and the leftists such as Schumer is very good at doing this. Doctors are not that stupid that they need special training in the form of more taxpayers dollars to be re-educated as to how to prescribe drugs. They know very well how addictive they are and inform their patients accordingly. Our existing laws just need to be enforced instead of creating new ones and assigning liberal judges who allow such criminals to get a pass.

  13. Jeanette says:

    We don’t need more laws passed; we need existing laws enforced…….with swift and sure penalties up to and including death.

    Lawbreakers know their chances of being prosecuted quickly are slim, and even if jailed, may get out years before their sentence because of overcrowding……

    Let’s put those yahoos to work while they are in prison, and let them earn their keep with some production and let them repay their debt to society with real money……..their hard earned sweat…… the rest of us.

  14. cygon says:

    D I understand it right that the pharmacist lived in Forest Hills and had his pharmacy in Suffolk? He probably thought it was safer to work there. I work in Nassau and I hear that there is a big problem with heroin and stuff like that in school age kids.

  15. K says:

    As a committed leftist, Schumer cannot let any tradegy go to waste without promoting more government control.

  16. Vincent says:

    Depriving legitimate patients of medication they need is no way to deal with monsters like this. He would have raised his ugly head to society in some other henious way , because he is a peice of s#it and that’s what they do. You can not legislate every possible thing that challenges human safety to be illegal. Because then you you destroy the spirit of creativity that is garnered from the freedoms we are “supposed” to enjoy in this country. Freedom is what our roots are made of, as we legislate more and more freedoms out of existence the more we choke off the life force that made the USA what sadly it seems only “used” to be made of. Chuck is a good man and he knows this he’s probably just really upset about this human excrement as is everyone but it’s this monswter who should be deprived of his rights not society.

  17. firehalo says:

    this so-called attempt to protect the people does absolutely NOTHING to prevent incidents such as this. the responsibility does not fall solely on doctors. pharmaceutical companies and users also are culpable. do you really think that doctors don’t know how addictive these meds are? more USELESS legislation and wasting of taxpayers’ money that does nothing in effect. how about fixing the economy instead?!? with this NEW legislation, doctors will be too scared to prescribe medication when and where needed. if you look at a prescription book, the receipts HAVE NUMBERS printed on them. who is keeping track of the numbers? NOBODY that’s who! why? this would require the gov’t to open an office to track the receipts, but that won’t work for the public because people are afraid of BIG gov’t. can’t have it both ways, so pick one. how about this: take responsibility for yourself and stop relying on the gov’t to protect you. death happens and most of the time its not pretty. get a f@cking grip, you morons! and you senators need to get your a$$es to work on real problems.

  18. John Howell says:

    It is absolutely pathological with these Leftists. It’s not a lack of laws that caused this shooting, and more laws won’t prevent them in the future.

  19. KC says:

    Each week Charles Schumer pops up for some quality press time to echo the major issue of the week. The TRUE Politician that he is, it’s always after the fact and you never hear a follow-up. He dodges other issues that are controversial artfully so as to avoid alienating any potential voters i.e. Weiner and the downtown Mosque. Can he someday point out a pressing issue before a tragedy is turned into a photo op?

    1. 2gruesome2b says:

      what is worse, he appears to have become kirsten gillibrand’s svengali (she being his trilby), as she has copied his practice of calling for big government correction of ills so deeply implanted in human nature that they will never be cured each weekend. the seemingly incurable malaise is that of liberal self-annointed elitism, “we know what is best for you…”.

  20. BLloyd says:

    This is a problem with all prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical companies are pushing prescription drugs legally. At least we know crack was illegal. Prescription drugs are bad for the body, kills kidneys, liver and cause many other problems that are not listed in the side effects. HAVE MR. NEWMAN AND MR. SAVAGE EVER LISTENED TO THE SIDE EFFECTS WHEN A COMMERCIAL COMES ON OR READ A LABEL WITH THE SIDE EFFECTS ON A PRESCRIPTION? MOST INCLUDE BLEEDING, LIVER AND KIDNEY DAMAGE. How can that be good for you? Maybe good for you two but not good for many elderly and youth that the doctors give them too.

  21. FREE!! Coke Ca Cola says:

    Headline should read…..

    Crackdown on politicians and their political agendas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Drug abuse is reality and should be dealt with at ALL levels everywhere not by some stupid silly class lesson to doctors!!

    Lets put the blame on who really is responsible ALL the politicians for allowing all these to happen in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx says:

      Charles Schumer is a Jewish buffoon

  22. Dorothy Proios says:

    How many innocent people must be killed before our elected officials take action. Why should we now be afraid to walk into our drug store to fill our prescriptions? I feel like I’m in the Wild West. Mothers who are aware of their children abusing drugs, prescription or otherwise, should report their children to the police. But will the police take action, NO, they wait until someone is killed. Our country is going backward not forward. How can the broken hearts be healed? To lose their dear ones for no good reason. What a shame.

    1. d bonadies says:

      Times are very bad in the US rightnow and with the state things are in crime rates are expected to go up, so what did everyone do? The cut their police forces in half. Don’t blame your police they can’t be everywhere at once and in this country the criminals have all the rights. And didn’t we just pass a bill saying their not worth it? The problem is the pharm companies and their “campaign” contributions. They decide what we are going to be prescribed and how much it’s gonna cost. And your politicains who don’t care what happens to those who aren’t rich, we don’t matter until it suits their purpose. I think they would prefer if we were all on somekind of meds. Schumer isn’t sincere and the fact that he’s using the deaths of someones loved ones to put himself in the spotlight is sick.

  23. Suzann says:

    To Ave Neman Sterling…. are you serious????? You really think they keep these pills in 100 size bottles in the pharmacey — 5 bottles????? WOW I’m shocked – unless you live in Mayberry you’re sadly mistaken…. They come in much much larger bottles, also I know junkies that take upwards of 40 -50 pills a day so the statement that they must be selling them because of the large quantity is even sadder — these people NEED them to get by and 11,000 divided between these two junkies would not last all that long. We need to first have armed guards in pharmacies and second go after the drs and pharmacy companies that are pushing them in the first place.

  24. Peter says:

    Chuck,You are a United States Senator.Spend your time solving America’s problems. Leave things like this to local and state enforcement agencies.Deal with issues like Taxation, Immigration, War(s) and treaties.Step away from every camera and microphone that you see and get to work.

  25. Ava Newman Sterling says:

    How stupid is this article? Very. What in the world would someone do with 11,000 pills? Sell them of course. How did he carry 10,000 pills, let’s see are there about 100 to a bottle, ok so that is 100 bottles. I have never seen more than one to five bottles in stock in any drugstore of anything behind a counter, maybe in a safe but even then it seems excessive. The other point is a few (LOL) of us have operations, tooth extractions, injuiies I guess we should just shoulder on Chuck without prescriptions. Boy do you love publicity. Drug addiction is a problem not solvable or even addressable by your political agendas. Leave it to the doctor’s and professionals please.

  26. MSavage says:

    Headline should read: Schumer calls for crack as his prescription drug.

    More seriously, I hope that the suspect gets the death penalty. But only of course if he is indeed the guilty party of the massacre.

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