U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) appeared at a South Toledo drugstore Sunday to make the case for legislation working its way through Congress that he believes would reduce the theft of prescription painkillers at pharmacies.
The senator appeared at Kahler Pharmacy, 1941 Airport Hwy., alongside its owner, Nicholas Tabb, to describe and promote the Strengthening and Focusing Enforcement to Deter Organized Stealing and Enhance Safety, or SAFE DOSES, Act.
"We must equip local and federal law enforcement with the right tools to crack down on pharmaceutical theft, including tougher jail sentences for these criminals," Mr. Brown said, adding that he was talking about drugs such as Percocet and OxyContin.
The legislation would do this, he explained, by increasing penalties for knowingly purchasing stolen painkillers and reselling them. The act also would increase criminal penalties for sellers when someone dies as a result of taking an illegal painkiller and would put pharmaceutical theft under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, used against organized crime.
The senator said the proposed legislation has been approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he was optimistic the Senate would approve the measure next month, and it would become law next year.
Toledo police Deputy Chief George Taylor said he was at the news conference to show support for the legislation.
"Any new tools we can add to our belt to fight this crime, we support," Chief Taylor said. "The more we can control this, the better."
Mr. Tabb said he was a Democrat and Brown supporter who fully endorsed stiffer penalties for the illegal sale of painkillers.
"I'm the father of a very young family and I think anything that keeps drugs off the street is a good start," he said. "I think legislation that makes it tougher on people who break in to or hold up a pharmacy is good."
Senator Brown is finishing his first term and faces Republican Josh Mandel, state treasurer, in the November election. A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll released on Thursday put him ahead 48 to 41 percent. The same poll had him with a 12-point lead earlier in the month.