Pharmacy security has recently been a dominating topic in the news. As everyone already knows, pharmacies have always been a prime target for burglaries and robberies. With an estimated 7,000 pharmacy break-ins occurring annually in the US, this is a possibility and a risk that everyone in our profession must face. Yet sometimes we think that although the possibility exists, this is something that happens frequently but not to us. Yet a recent statistic that sheds significant light on the matter is that pharmacies actually have a 14% probability of being the victim of a burglary, robbery or of an employee drug theft.
The theft of narcotics and drugs from pharmacies received a vast amount of media and news coverage in 2010 when the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) came forth and declared that prescription drug abuse had reached epidemic levels nationally. Then the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) released their findings that in the first decade of the new millennium (2000 – 2010) the number of US citizens abusing prescription drugs had nearly doubled (going from an estimated 3.8 million to over 7 million individuals). Narcotics led the way with documented theft and diversion occurring at all levels, from the manufacturers to the distributors to the pharmacies who had to deal head-on with pharmacy security. Pharmacy burglaries, robberies and break-ins reached new highs every year and still continue to do so. Adding to the problem is the ever increasing theft and diversion by internal pharmacy employees, and one can see that perhaps the chances of facing this risk are perhaps more likely than not.
Pharmacy Robberies, Burglaries and Theft Dominate Today’s Newstories on 8.13.2017
Recently it seems that all the pharmacy news we read is filled with an increasing number of stories regarding the burglaries and robberies of pharmacies. Today alone the first four news stories presented by Google Alerts regarding pharmacy topics were about a pharmacy break-in, burglary, robbery or theft by a pharmacy employee:
– Robber strikes Walgreens pharmacy in Collier County –
In Naples, Florida a man robbed a convenience store yesterday afternoon (8.12.2017). He then went into the Walgreens Pharmacy and demanded pills from a pharmacy employee. The suspect fled the scene and there were no reported injuries. He is still at large.
– Media cops probe armed heist at Boro Pharmacy
In Media, Pennsylvania a suspect robbed the Murray Overhill Pharmacy at gunpoint yesterday (8.12.2017) at about 2 p.m. The suspect displayed a gun, demanded prescription pain killers and then fled with an undetermined amount of narcotics.
– Thieves Steal Unknown Amount of Pharmaceuticals from Huntington Beach Pharmacy
In Huntington Beach, California two thieves broke into the Bella Terra Pharmacy yesterday (8.12.2017) and stole an unspecified amount of pharmaceuticals. According to police, about 2 a.m. two men entered the pharmacy by prying open the back door. A detailed description of the thieves and of what was stolen was not immediately available.
– Pharmacy tech pleads guilty to fraud in obtaining pain medicine
In Dothan, Alabama a former pharmacy technician at Lyster Army Health Clinic Pharmacy at Fort Rucker pleaded guilty to the diversion of narcotics by fraudulently obtaining controlled pain medications and other drugs while being employed by the pharmacy.
The Estimated Costs are Staggering
The costs associated with pharmacy burglaries, robberies, break-ins and employee drug diversion are staggering. The DEA alone estimates that over 50% of its annual budget is spent on prescription narcotics. The costs associated with the prevention and security for pharmacies alone is estimated at over a billion dollars. This includes insurance premiums, physical security features such as cameras and monitoring systems, employee education, drug take-back programs and increased reporting, documentation and paperwork required by the DEA, State Boards of Pharmacy, suppliers and insurance companies. Perhaps the most important costs are the intangible feelings of violation, vulnerability, trauma and fear that often occurs to a pharmacist or pharmacy employee following an armed robbery.
Prevention and Being Prepared are the Solutions
Although there are no ways to totally ensure that a robbery, burglary or theft by an employee never happens at your pharmacy, there are certain steps that every pharmacy owner should consider taking:
1. Have policies and procedures in place for employees to know what to do. Plus make sure that every employee has read and understands what is expected of them if such a situation does occur.
2. Update and improve your alarm system and implement surveillance and monitoring systems. Additionally, consider installing a narcotic safe in your pharmacy.
3. Educate and train your employees and staff. Encourage them to be aware, alert and to know what’s happening in the local area.
Are you and your pharmacy prepared to deal with situations like these? As stated earlier, no-one thinks that these situations will happen to their pharmacy business, but these are real-life examples of the old cliche “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” being applicable. Do you have policies and procedures written for your business and employees to act on if such a crisis arises? Do you have inventory policies in place to help determine what was taken during a burglary? Do you have training in place to help your employees in these situations that will minimize your possible liabilities? If the answers are no, then contact HCC Pharmacy Staffing to see how we can help you.
Healthcare Consulting has been a full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 28 years. HCC has been helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with such crisis situations since 1989. Just a few examples of our services include:
Although everyone hopes not to ever have to deal with such situations, HCC strongly urges you to be prepared. Contact us online or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you.