Rural doctors and regional health professionals say many cash-strapped pensioners are selling strong prescription painkillers to make ends meet.
As reported to The Courier Mail, a box of painkillers could pull in up to $4000.
The most desired drugs include opioid pills such as OxyContin and MS Contin, as well as Fentanyl patches and medicines prescribed for chronic pain.
Health professionals are warning older Australians that dealers may target them as they approach or leave pharmacies. Dealers are selling OxyContin, also known as ‘Hillbilly Heroin’ for $100, while Fentanyl patches can be cut into smaller units and sold for around $50 a square.
And it’s a temptation that’s difficult to resist for many pensioners living on just $766 a fortnight.
Prescription medications are easier to get then illegal drugs and older Australians provide a regular supply.
“People know; they talk about it and know the old bloke up the street is getting paid this and, ‘Oh gee, I can get $500 and all I have to do is give you some tablets’,” said Queensland Dr Ken Treichel.
AMAQ president Dr Christian Rowan said the targeting of older people for their medication was becoming a “real and known problem”.
Drug and Serious Crime Group Sergeant Adam Frost said that he has caught people of all ages, including pensioners, buying and selling drugs.
“It’s not an excuse – a 78-year-old on the pension and finding it tough might resort to that sort of supplementary income,” Sgt Frost.
“There is a need to maintain a watching brief on this issue, because where there is a demand for the illicit use of these drugs and an opportunity for profit through illicit sales exists, organised crime is generally not too far behind.”
Do you know of anyone who has had to sell their prescription medicine just to make ends meet? Are you aware of such things happening?