If you’re operating a business that deals with medications, over-the-counter (OTC) or otherwise, you should be concerned about medication theft.

It’s a growing issue across the country and even the most prestigious hospitals have seen its effects. Theft occurs across the medical drug supply chain, be it in pharmacies, hospitals, distribution centers or warehouses. This issue also has multi-tiered ramifications, because it increases local dependencies and abuses, incites theft-related violence and can even result in tainted drugs being sold back to unknowing consumers.

Protect your business, community and customers from this issue by understanding what is commonly stolen and how to prevent theft.

Commonly Abused Medications

Prescribed medications are commonly abused, and people often gain access to them from medical professionals. However, many of these medications are also known to be stolen from hospitals and pharmacies. Here are the top ten most commonly abused prescription medications:

  1. Oxycontin
  2. Xanax
  3. Adderal
  4. Ritalin
  5. Vicodin
  6. Percocet
  7. Valium
  8. Ambien
  9. Promethazine/Codeine Syrup
  10. Phenobarbital

It would seem that OTC medications are at lower risk of being stolen because they are easier to find and purchase than prescription drugs. However, OTC drugs are not immune to the medication theft issue.

Many OTC drugs can be used in excess or in combination with other substances to create dangerous drugs. Here are the top brands of OTC medications that are stolen, according to the National Retail Federation:

  1. Abreva
  2. Advil
  3. Aleve
  4. Alli weight loss pills
  5. Benadryl
  6. Diabetic testing strips
  7. e.p.t. pregnancy tests
  8. Lotrimin
  9. Matrix
  10. Nicorette
  11. Pepcid AC
  12. Prilosec
  13. Rogaine
  14. Sudafed
  15. Tylenol Extra Strength
  16. Visine
  17. Zantac

Preventative Measures

So, how do you stop this form of theft from happening in the first place? It’s a difficult issue to solve, because employees have been known to use their credentials to steal from inventory. Hospitals in particular should have strong security measures in place, but that does not mean thieves cannot figure out how to overcome those obstacles.

In general, there are a few best practices to better secure your medical business from theft:

  • Ensure your access control system is up-to-date so former or unauthorized employees cannot access medications. Should theft occur, you can identify which employee were using the system at a specific time. Additionally, consider changing locks and access codes after an employee leaves, is fired or becomes unauthorized.
  • Always maintain accurate inventory and store medications exactly how the manufacturer dictates. These are non-negotiable aspects of drug sales. Disorganized inventory systems result in many thefts, because employees are less likely to notice when medications go missing.
  • Put surveillance cameras around your facility and near point-of-sale (POS) systems. Cameras can capture the identity of the thief and notify the proper authorities. Additionally, a close watch of surveillance footage can stop the problem before it starts.
  • Medication is most commonly stolen while in transit. Keep careful track of inventory while it’s in transit by maintaining locked storage and vehicle tracking. Because employee theft and nighttime break-ins are also problematic, complete criminal background checks on all staff, and limit the issuance of keys.

These are some basic preventative measures, but there are more ways you can commit to medication security. If you know you need to increase these measures, contact a company that has experience in business security.