Syracuse, NY (WIBX) - A spike in prescription drug abuse in Central New York has Senator Chuck Schumer throwing his support behind efforts to crack down on the illegal activity.

The senator, speaking at a Pharmacy in Syracuse today, says his plan aims to combat theft at every point of the illegal prescription drug supply chain, "from the drug warehouse to the delivery truck to the pharmacy, by increasing penalties, placing medical product theft under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, and giving law enforcement wiretaps access and other tools to combat dangerous drug rings," the lawmaker said in a released statement.
Schumer says since the start of the new year, the Upstate New York Poison Control Center have reported 145 cases of prescription drug abuse in Onondaga county alone, and says if the current trend continues through the year, it will mean a spike in prescription drug abuse cases of nearly 20-percent.  Schumer says although the nation as a whole is seeing an increase in these kinds of illegal activities, locally, prescription drug abuse and theft cases are disproportinately higher.
Schumer added that tougher laws will help save lives and says prescription drug theft in the area, inadvertently puts patients at risk because they may unknowingly use black market medication in hospitals and their doctors offices. Schumer was joined by Syracuse Director of Administration Bill Ryan, First Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center T. Michele Caliva, Nottingham High School Principal Debra Mastropaolo, the owner and pharmacist from Harvey's Pharmacy, and members of the Syracuse Police Department.