Thursday, November 15, 2001

OxyContin theft at Rt. 1 Rite Aid

Published in the Current
Scarborough police are looking for a man who threatened a Rite Aid clerk with a knife during a theft of OxyContin from the store’s pharmacy on Route 1 at about 6 p.m. Monday.

The man was a white male with possibly brown hair and possibly brown eyes, said Detective Ivan Ramsdell. He was wearing a hat pulled low and a bandanna over the lower part of his face, so only his eyes were visible, Ramsdell said.

Late last month, police told The Current that a general warning had gone out to all local drug stores because there was concern about OxyContin thefts in the New England area.

The Community Pharmacy in Oak Hill Plaza responded to the warning by posting a sign on its front door, telling would-be thieves, “we don’t have any OxyContin in stock; if you leave a prescription we can order for the next day.”

The pharmacies at the Scarborough branches of Hannaford and Wal-Mart said they had not changed any policies since Monday’s incident but continued to be concerned about theft of the drug.

“We will be verifying prescriptions,” said Hannaford pharmacist Barbara L’Heureux, noting that her procedures have been in place since the OxyContin theft in Yarmouth last year.

The CVS pharmacy in Cape Elizabeth has not put up signs about its stock.

Community Pharmacy pharmacist Bob Milligan said this week he is still concerned, but hopes there will be a solution. He said the problem is not just in Maine, but is a nationwide issue. The store’s warning sign is now posted above the pharmacy counter.

OxyContin is a synthetic opioid painkiller intended for use by cancer patients, Milligan said. It has a 12-hour dose in a single pill, which is covered with a time-release coating. Addicts crush the pills and snort or inject the powder, taking an entire 12-hour dose at once.

Milligan said the pharmacy had received a police warning a couple of weeks ago, cautioning them about possible thefts of OxyContin. He said he had not heard from the police since the Rite Aid theft, though he had thought he might.