$1m-worth of immunoglobulin stolen in Tennessee

Cargo thieves have made off with a shipment of an Octapharma product used to protect immune-suppressed individuals from serious diseases.

The full truckload (FTL) shipment of Octagam (human normal immunoglobulin solution for intravenous infusion) included 1,300 packs of the product – worth around $1m – and was taken from a truck stop located off I-65 in Cornersville, Tennessee. The driver of the truck stopped to fuel up but discovered the tractor, trailer and shipment were missing when he returned to the vehicle.

Octagam has to be maintained within a close temperature range to maintain its integrity, so recovery of the shipment is of the utmost priority to avoid degraded product potentially being administered to patients. The tractor and trailer were recovered – empty – yesterday morning, according to the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC), which noted that the shipment was en route from a  3PL pharmaceutical distribution facility in Fairdale, Kentucky, to a facility in Alabama.

Switzerland-based Octapharma notes that Octagam is used to for immunoglobulin replacement therapy in patients with primary immunodeficiency syndromes, myeloma or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, or other diseases such as AIDS that cause repeated bacterial infections.

“This is a very unique product that would only be of interest to a specific clientele, hence it should be ready apparent if it were to reappear in the pharmaceutical supply chain,” said the PCSC. The theft is somewhat unusual, it notes, as the perpetrators didn’t simply swap the tractor and drive away the shipment, but transferred it to another trailer.

A red Volvo tractor and trailer was caught on surveillance footage  following the victim into the truck stop and leaving at the same time as the stolen vehicle. PCSC says that a similar vehicle has been linked to other theft and suspicious activity in Tennessee.

There was no GPS tracking available for the shipment, and temperature monitoring capabilities were disabled shortly after it was stolen, it adds.

Data from Sensitech suggest there was a 15 per cent decline in cargo thefts across all industries last year, although its annual report suggests that “thieves in the US still present a threat to highly desired shipments.”

Pharma thefts were relatively uncommon, accounting for around 1 per cent of all cases, and dropped 57 per cent in number and 54 per cent by value compared to the prior year, which Sensitech puts down to the introduction of stringent security countermeasures by the pharma industry. There were zero thefts above the $1m-mark by value last year.

PCSC notes that the theft may have been opportunistic. “It has not been uncommon, in the past, for warehouses that ship pharmaceutical products to be placed under surveillance by perpetrators - and random shipments followed until they become vulnerable to theft,” it says.

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