WOODBURY - Anti-drug advocates are applauding the progress that has been made in combating Long Island's painkiller epidemic in the year following the Medford pharmacy massacre.As the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident approaches, state lawmakers have passed a bill that aims to keep tighter tabs on prescriptions. The so-called I-Stop bill, unanimously approved by lawmakers this week, will set up a real-time, online database that doctors and pharmacists must update when filling and writing prescriptions.Long Islanders hurt by prescription drug abuse say the bill is a big step in the right direction. Laura Bustamante, whose father, Bryon Sheffield, was one of the four Medford massacre victims, traveled to Albany last week to urge lawmakers to approve the I-Stop bill. Law enforcement agencies are also putting more resources toward stamping out prescription drug traffickers. Last week, authorities arrested nearly 100 people, including two Long Island doctors, all linked to illicit pain pill sales. Anti-drug advocates caution that there is still much to be done. Drug counselors say reducing the demand for painkillers remains a key part of the battle, and that means more money is needed for education and already crowded-treatment centers.
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