Pharmacy security has recently been a dominating topic in the news. As everyone already knows, pharmacies have always been a prime target for burglaries, theft, drug diversion 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! Plus it’s important to keep in mind a recent statistic that sheds significant light on the matter: pharmacies actually have a 14% probability of being the victim of a burglary, robbery or of an employee drug theft in 2019 and 2020.
The theft of narcotics and drugs from pharmacies initially received a vast amount of media and news coverage way back in 2010 when the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) came forth and declared that prescription drug abuse had reached “epidemic levels” nationally. Following the CDC’s lead, the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) released their findings that in the first decade of the new millennium (2000 through 2010) the number of citizens that were abusing prescription drugs in the United States had nearly doubled (going from an estimated 3.8 million to well over 7 million individuals across the nation). Narcotics led the way with documented theft and diversion occurring at all industry levels, from the manufacturers to the distributors to the pharmacies who all have to deal “head-on” with pharmacy security. Pharmacy burglaries, robberies and break-ins reached new highs every single year since and are continuing still to do so. Adding to the problem is the ever increasing theft and diversion seen by internal pharmacy employees, and one can see easily why perhaps the chances of facing this risk are increasingly becoming more likely than not.
Pharmacy Robberies, Burglaries and Thefts Dominate the News
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. Every day news stories presented by Google Alerts regarding pharmacy topics are dominated with stories about a pharmacy break-in, burglary, robbery or theft by a pharmacy employee. Some examples include:
– Robber strikes Walgreens pharmacy in Collier County:
In Naples, Florida a man robbed a convenience store and 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. 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 and stole an unspecified amount of pharmaceuticals. According to police, 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 annually. This includes insurance premiums, on-site physical security equipment such as cameras and monitoring systems, employee education, drug take-back programs and the increased reporting that’s required, plus generating and storing all of the documentation and paperwork that’s 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. It’s imperative that you have your Policies and Procedures Manual in place for employees to know what to do. Plus make sure that every employee has read it and understands what is expected of them if such a situation does occur (and be sure to document this!).
2. Update and improve your current alarm system and implement new 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. Studies have proven that employee “awareness” is the greatest deterrent available to a pharmacy operation, and the results are that the robbers, thieves, shoplifters and burglars will choose to simply go elsewhere where the security is more lax and the employees less likely to be prepared.
What Security Does Your Pharmacy Lack or Need?
Are both you and your pharmacy staff prepared to deal with security problems, flaws and issues 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 Customized Policies and Procedures written specifically for your business and employees to act on if such a crisis arises? Do you have the inventory policies in place to help determine what was taken during a burglary? Do you have ongoing training in place to help your employees in these situations that will also minimize your possible potential liabilities? If the answers are no, then contact HCC Pharmacy Staffing to see how we can help you.
About Healthcare Consultants
Healthcare Consultants is a nationally renowned full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 30+ years now. HCC has been helping pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with such crisis situations since being founded in 1989. Just a few examples of our services include:
– Development of Policies and Procedures
– Employee Crisis Training
– Inventory Management
– Pharmacy Business Performance and Efficiency
– Pharmacy Management Consultation
– Pharmacy Inspection and Audit Preparation and Response
Although everyone truly hopes that they will never have to deal with such horrific and potentially dangerous situations at their drugstore or pharmacy operation, HCC strongly urges you to be prepared. Don’t wait until your pharmacy is the one in the News reports and leaving you regretting that you hadn’t done enough in the security area. Known nationally as one of the industry leaders in providing a full range of professional pharmacy consultation services to its vast array of clients, HCC is owned and operated by pharmacists. Healthcare Consultants can provide proven expertise and experience in all facets of pharmacy operations, including retail, hospital and all specialty pharmacy venues. Contact us online now or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help your business run more efficiently and profitably.