January 30, 2013
NYC Pharmacies Urged to Use Decoy Devices
to Catch Thieves

New York—All 1,800 pharmacies in New York City are being asked by police to put painkiller “bait bottles” with tracking devices on their shelves, allowing detectives to immediately find and arrest pharmacy thieves. In New York and other areas, it is hoped that the decoy devices—which will look, feel, and sound like OxyContin containers—will help stem the epidemic of drug store break-ins in New York City and nationwide.

The NYC plan was announced by the Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly at a meeting of health care providers and policymakers in La Quinta, California, sponsored by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative of the Clinton Foundation.

Decoy bottles were developed by Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, and have already been tested in other New York jurisdictions, such as Suffolk County, and in other states, including Pennsylvania and Maine.

In November, according to media reports, it took police less than an hour to arrest two men suspected of holding up several pharmacies in Northeast Philadelphia because some of the opioids they lifted actually were implanted GPS tracking devices.

In addition to creating the decoy painkillers, Purdue Pharma had been at the forefront of the fight against pharmacy robberies with its RXPATROL Web site, a collaborative effort between industry and law enforcement designed to collect, collate, analyze, and disseminate pharmacy theft information. The site, which has nearly 7,000 registered users, has information on more than 7,400 incidents involving thefts from pharmacies.

In addition to tracking crimes and offering educational videos, the RXPATROL Web site also offers a detailed checklist of what pharmacists can do to protect themselves and their staff from robberies.

Meanwhile, pharmacy groups are advocating for more government efforts to stem the tide of break-ins, some of which have resulted in fatalities.

Joseph H. Harmison, RPh, a pharmacy owner in Grand Prairie, TX, testified last spring on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association at a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing. He recommended federal legislative initiatives to help mitigate the growing problem of pharmacy crimes.

Those included:

• Providing more funding for federal prosecution;
• Giving funding to federal and state law enforcement for the purposes of improving communication and coordination;
• Offering tax incentives for pharmacies to adopt safety and crime prevention measures;
• Allowing pharmacies access to prescription drug crime forfeiture money for the purpose of enhancing pharmacy security systems and investing in deterrence measures;
• Passing legislation to shut down pill mills; and
• Requiring mandatory minimum sentences for robberies and burglaries involving controlled substances.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect