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Published: Wednesday, 8/13/2003

Laxative under guard at area pharmacies


Several pharmacists have moved the product behind their counters to keep tighter control of the product that has been in limited supply because of a manufacturing problem.

``We did keep it behind the counter because of theft,'' said Bill McCall, owner of the Glenbyrne Pharmacy at 1544 South Byrne Rd.

``It's been going on a few months at least. We don't quite understand why, and since you don't catch them when they're doing it, you can't ask them why they're taking it.

``This is the first time anyone's stolen a laxative.”

Pharmacists at a local discount chain, two other drugstore chains, and a supermarket chain said they too had recently experienced theft problems involving Senokot. Some had moved the product behind the pharmacy counters.

One who still keeps the laxative on store shelves is pharmacist Brent Kahler, owner of Kahler Pharmacy at 1941 Airport Hwy. ``We have not had any problems with it,” he said.

However, he said there would be good reasons for stealing a potent doctor-recommended laxative like Senokot. ``People who take large amounts of narcotic analgesics, like Percocet, need laxatives because the drugs they take make them very constipated,'' he said.

Bill Aring, owner of Compound Corner Pharmacy at 6725 West Central Ave. in Sylvania Township, offered other possible reasons. Laxatives frequently are abused by young women with bulimia and anorexia, and it is used by some hospice centers for cancer patients on opiates, he said.

Although the generic version is moderately priced - about $1.50 for 20 pills -brand-name Senokot, made by Purdue Frederick Co., of Stamford, Conn., can cost up to $1 a pill at some area stores. People on fixed incomes who cannot afford Senokot at $1 a pill but who need it for health reasons could be stealing the drug, one expert said.

Compounding the problem, the brand name version was in limited supply locally this summer because a manufacturing problem at a Senokot plant, said Jim Heins, a Purdue Frederick spokesman. The company has been unable to refill orders quickly.

But to resolve theft problems, the firm is working with retailers on packaging that would make Senokot and other drugs more difficult to steal, he said.

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