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Robber steals OxyContin in Tarentum

| Saturday, July 21, 2001

TARENTUM: Police are investigating a robbery Friday morning at a borough pharmacy in which money was not the target.

Instead, it was the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Borough Police Chief Dave Sieber said a man walked into Calligan's Pharmacy along Fourth Avenue at about 9:30 and asked the clerk to speak with the pharmacist. The man then gave the pharmacist a note that read, 'Give me all of your Oxycontin,' Sieber said.

He didn't show a weapon but told the employees he had a gun in his backpack.

Sieber said the pharmacist gave an undisclosed amount of the drug to the man, who then ran.

The pharmacist, who didn't give her name, said the pharmacy doesn't carry much of the drug.

Sieber said the robber was last seen heading toward Allegheny Avenue.

He said he knows of no other robberies in the Valley that appear to be connected to Friday's incident. He noted that it's not that unusual for somebody to rob a pharmacy for drugs.

Used for cancer pain

OxyContin is a drug designed to relieve medium to severe pain. It's often used by cancer patients. It can provide as long as 12 hours of relief.

Recently, people across the region have been abusing the drug. The pill, when crushed and then snorted or injected, slows down bodily functions.

Abusing the highly addictive drug can be fatal.

From Jan. 1, 2000, to late May 2001, the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center was called 797 times about oxycodone, the generic form, and 271 times about OxyContin specifically.

The drugs are chemically identical.

Jason Walker can be reached at jawalker@tribweb.com

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