The Father's Day pharmacy killings in Medford are ample evidence that the theft and illegal distribution of prescription drugs is an epidemic that must be stopped with legislation, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

"What happened in Medford should be a wake-up call to the nation," Schumer said. "The abuse of prescription drugs isn't as deeply entrenched yet, but it's growing as quickly as crack did."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Suffolk police said David Laffer of Medford killed two customers and two pharmacy employees June 19 before making off with more than 10,000 hydrocodone pills.

Schumer is co-sponsoring a measure with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) called the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011. The bill, introduced in March, would require medical professionals who prescribe drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin to look for telltale signs of drug abuse.

As part of the bill, up to $25 million would be made available to upgrade state monitoring programs and ensure that information on doctor shopping could be shared across state lines.