New kid on the block AFTS Labs is making a good first impression in the space once occupied by Armor Crafts on Larkfield Road in East Northport, promising a slew of new jobs if it sustains its current growth.
The fairly young drug testing company founded and owned by Huntingtonian Dr. Richard Stripp, officially relocated to 728 Larkfield Road this week after outgrowing the confines of its old Huntington Village location. Stripp estimates that the larger East Northport space will accommodate 20 times the volume of drug samples and 10 times its 40-odd total of on- and off-site personnel with with job creation in the technical, sales, and administration fields.
“We are looking forward to the move as it symbolizes the growth our company has seen over the past few years," said Stripp. "We are equally as happy knowing that the larger we grow, the more we are able to help our community here on Long Island combat the serious problem of prescription drug abuse.”
AFTS (American Forensic Toxicology Services) is a premier forensic laboratory that works with physicians, hospitals, and clinics to deliver rapid, accurate services and assist clients with test results interpretation— critical components of patient care and the prevention of drug abuse.
AFTS encourages physicians to test any patients before placing them on a controlled substance in order to prevent abuse of the drugs and to follow additional protocols to ensure compliance with these painkillers such as opioid treatment agreements, and random drug tests and pill counts. AFTS Labs has also partnered with several pain centers to combat the growing drug problem on Long Island and in surrounding areas.
The increase in prescription pain-killer abuse and deaths are mostly a reflection of how easy they have become to obtain. A popular method of doing so is through “doctor shopping”-- obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple physicians. Awareness of the broad impacts of the epidemic peaked last year with a pharmacy robbery in Medford that tragically ended in the murder of three people, prompting County Executive Steve Bellone to implement a series of initiatives to increase safety and deter robberies at local drugstores.
Independently owned Town Drug pharmacy nearby had security cameras installed at both doors and the cash register areas after the fatal shootings in Medford. Bob, a pharmacist, said gates were installed two or three years ago after thieves would throw cinderblocks through the glass windows and steal painkillers. “When it happened twice in one month, it was time to get the gates installed,” said Bob.
He also noted that the makers of Oxycontin have re-formulated the product. Now if someone tries to dissolve it, it turns into a gel-like substance so it can’t be snorted or injected.
Pharmacists at two other major chain drugstores preferred not to give their names but were more than happy to share their opinions. “The government needs to get stricter with the patients who are going to the doctor’s office and getting these prescriptions,” one said. Asked if he felt threatened, the man replied. “Sure. You don’t know what lunatic is going to come in here.”