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Sonitrol Commercial Security Blog ... by Joe Wilson



How To Protect Your Pharmacy From Internal & External Threats

Posted by Joe Wilson

Jul 14, 2022 6:56:54 AM

drug store securityBetween 2014 and 2018, nearly 29 million doses of prescription drugs were lost or stolen according to a study in the Journal of Drug Issues. Of this, 7.7 million doses were opioids. Of these missing doses, almost 40% were unexplained losses from community pharmacies. 

Some of these were the result of external theft. But another big issue to be aware of when it comes to drug thefts in pharmacies is internal theft. 

In Ontario, in 2018, police were called to a robbery pharmacy. Surveillance footage recorded at the time of the theft shows a man in a clown mask walking into the pharmacy with a knife. He heads straight for the pharmacy counter. The pharmacist opens the narcotic safe and fills up the robber's garbage bag. After handing over the bag, the pharmacist drops to his knees. The robber thrusts his knife into the air and then leaves. Cops are called. 

This is a terrifying situation that nobody ever wants to be in or have their staff fall victim to. Or in this case, is it? It turns out that the pharmacist planned the whole thing and trafficked 5,000 fentanyl patches or more. 

Investigations show that in a 4-year period, between 2013 to 2017, 241 Ontario pharmacists have been responsible for:

  • putting opioids on the street
  • defrauding the provincial drug plan 
  • harassing patients and employees 
  • committing fatal dispensing errors 

While many pharmacy managers will think, “that wouldn’t happen at my pharmacy,” the risk is there. Even though 98.5% of Ontario’s pharmacists have not been accused of the above actions, even a small number of pharmacists committing crimes can do substantial harm to the pharmacies they work at and the communities they live in. 

So, what can you do as a pharmacy owner/manager? You can take steps to protect your pharmacy. 

To protect your pharmacy from internal and external crime, consider these tips: 

  1. Identify Your Risk

Pharmacies have a variety of security weaknesses, which could be anything from how you manage your employees to the delivery drivers that handle assets to external threats such as burglars.

When it comes to improving your security, the first step is to get a professional security expert to identify your weak spots and build a unique security plan for your company’s specific needs.

  1. Train Your Staff  

Employees shouldn’t put their life at risk to protect your business, but they should be trained in spotting security concerns around your pharmacy. Be sure your staff is always watching for common internal scams for pharmacy theft including:

  • Filling fake prescriptions or phoned prescriptions
  • Taking medication from the bottle and replacing it with similar “look-alike” tablets
  • Short filling prescriptions and taking medication
  • Filling unauthorized early refills

When it comes to external thefts, your employees should be looking out for addicted patients, professional criminals or frustrated customers. They are all among the list of external threats that make pharmacies vulnerable to violence and theft.

  1. Protect Your Facility With A Verified Alarm System

Move away from traditional CCTV and use a verified security solution to protect your pharmacy’s assets. Verified security doesn’t just record break-ins and thefts. Intrusions are verified by security professionals in a central monitoring station. Once verified, they are reported immediately to the police.

Since these intrusions are verified, we have the lowest false alarm rates in the industry and police respond to our alarms in just 3.5 minutes. You’ll be able to catch thieves red-handed before they make off with any of your products!

You can also use apps and desktop software to keep an eye on your property, even when you aren’t there. This will give you better visibility over everything that is happening when you’re away. 

  1. Use Managed Access Control

It’s unfortunate, but internal theft is a reality in any business and your pharmacy is no different. That means it’s crucial that your organization always has complete visibility into your employees’ actions and their whereabouts.

Managed access control, or keyless entry, limits access to your stock by only giving access to those rooms to employees with a key card. With reporting functionality, you’ll know exactly who was in what room and at what time. If an internal theft occurs, you’ll know exactly who was in the room,

  1. Install Time-Delay Safes

Pharmacies have had great success in preventing theft by installing time-delay safes. These safes deter robberies in your pharmacy by electronically delaying the time it takes the pharmacy employees to be able to open the safe.

A code must be entered to open the safe, which then automatically triggers a wait time before the safe is unlocked. This discourages thieves as the longer they remain at the crime scene, the higher the chance that they’ll get caught.

If you would like to learn more about securing your pharmacy from internal and external threats, contact our team of professionals today for a free security audit.

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Topics: Pharmacy and Drug Store Security

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Joe Wilson, Owner of Sonitrol Western Canada

We provide our customers with the best commercial security solutions and quality service backed by our unique Guarantee and Commitment to Service. It's something unverified conventional alarm companies simply cannot guarantee!

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