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Lawmakers Gearing Up To Put An End To Painkiller Prescription 'Doctor Shopping'

SEAFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- On Tuesday there was a dramatic change in Suffolk County. It was announced a detective, who is also a registered pharmacist, will join the district attorney in a special grand jury review to determine how widespread "doctor shopping" has become.

This came in the wake of Long Island's most recent and violent pharmacy robbery and shootout, reports CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan.

While tributes flowed in for the off-duty ATF agent shot to death during last weekend's Seaford pharmacy robbery, the hold up allegedly committed by a pill-popping career criminal, newly sworn-in legislators listened Tuesday afternoon as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone addressed the highest profile issues facing them. Topping the list is painkiller prescription abuse.

"That is why I have directed the Police Department to appoint a special detective to work on the case in cooperation with the district attorney's office. We have to have a focused approach to end this epidemic," Bellone said.

A grand jury probe into "doctor shopping" is underway since it was revealed Medford pharmacy assassin David Laffer and his wife, Melinda Brady, filled prescriptions for almost 12,000 pain pills from dozens of doctors in the years preceding their violent Father's Day crime spree.

"We need the doctors and pharmacists participating. They can't look the other way when someone comes in with a prescription for a thousand pills," Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer is now pushing for federal intervention. In Nassau County, letters of alert from Executive Ed Mangano have just been mailed to every community pharmacist.

"These thefts can become very violent and lead to death so we are moving ahead with our prescription crime task force," Mangano said.

Pharmacists said they want safety and accountability.

"Doctors can look up online to see if patients have been doctor shopping and if they do their due diligence there and if pharmacists do their due diligence and call the doctors' offices to verify the prescription, I think we can be a little bit safer," said Allen Sankovich of Franwin Pharmacy.

Nationwide, pharmacy robberies are expected to double to more than 4,000 next year, leaving violence in their wake.

The funeral mass for ATF Agent John Capano will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in Seaford, not far from where he lost his life outside the pharmacy.

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