GARLAND, Texas -- The Garland Police Department in Texas is adding an Internet-based prescription drug database to its crime-fighting arsenal. To date, physicians and health-care professionals have primarily used this database.

"When you mention drugs, most people think of illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, as do most police officers. In today's time though, this has grown to include many drugs that are purchased legally with a doctor's prescription," said Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates. "In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated nine million people over the age of 12 used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in 1999."

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Substance Abuse (SAMHSA), states that over 800,000 online Web sites sell prescription drugs on the Internet and ship them with no questions asked. In fact, SAMHSA reports that about one-third of all U.S. drug abuse is prescription drug abuse. They also advise that in 2000 nearly half a million people were hospitalized by drug overdoses and 43 percent of those were there because of prescription drug misuse.

With this growing level of abuse, police encounter a vast variety of drugs that must be identified. Many of these are new drugs or new brands of old drugs. Using ePocrates Rx Online, police can identify the pills through a photograph, drug name or description, greatly reducing the time required to identify these drugs.

Garland is located northeast of Dallas and is the 10th largest city in Texas. The city's police force numbers more than 300 and serves a population of over 225,000. The city recently completed a 181,000-square-foot criminal justice facility including the police department headquarters, a forensics laboratory, the detention center and the municipal court.

Miriam Jones  |  Chief Copy Editor