Los Angeles Times Examines Task Force Charged With Stopping Illegal Pharmaceuticals
The Los Angeles Times today examines the Los Angeles County Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force, which is charged with halting over-the-counter sales of "potentially dangerous" medications. Several businesses such as party supply stores, butcher shops and botanicas in the county are suspected of selling medications made in foreign countries; drugs such as vitamins and antibiotics that are commonly found in the United States but sold at "illicit pharmacies" in an injectable form, which requires a prescription; or medicines banned in the United States. The task force, known as HALT, was established to help the county comply with a 1998 state law that permits county health officers to search businesses suspected of selling illegal pharmaceuticals without obtaining a search warrant. Law enforcement officials can be called in to seize any contraband, the Times reports. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors created the task force in February 1999 as part of the county's Department of Health Services. The seven-member task force is made up of one full-time Los Angeles police officer, three sheriff's deputies, two health officers and one pharmacist. Since its inception three years ago, the task force has confiscated an estimated $5 million in illegal pharmaceuticals, particularly in immigrant communities, according to Donald Ashton, a deputy health officer (Guccione, Los Angeles Times, 11/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.