PCSC says pharma cargo theft declined in 2012

Trucks on the highwayA pharmaceutical industry group says that theft of drug shipments in the US fell both in numbers and value terms in 2012.

The Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Consortium (PCSC) said there were 30 incidents involving pharmaceutical products last year, down from 36 in 2011, and the average value of stolen shipments fell from around $585,000 to a little under $170,000.

Concerted action by the drug industry to tackle theft - aided by the PCSC and other organisations such as Rx-360 - has resulted in four straight years of declines in the number of stolen shipments. The average value of the stolen cargo has also declined from a high of $4.2m per incident in 2009.

Pharmaceutical theft hit the headlines in 2010 after Eli Lilly lost $76m-worth of medicines to criminals at a warehouse facility in Enfield, Connecticut. The stolen drugs were eventually recovered last year.

There were 14 full trailer load (FTL) thefts in 2012, half of which occurred over the weekend while three took place during holidays. Sadly, ten of the stolen shipments did not make use of GPS tracking technology, which has allowed a number of shipments to be recovered - and criminals detained - in the last couple of years.

The remaining incidents in 2012 included 14 last-mile courier thefts - in which medicines are taken as they are delivered to pharmacies - as well as two container thefts.

PCSC spokesman Chuck Forsaith said one factor in the reduction in incidents has been the educational and intelligence-sharing efforts of the drug industry.

With thefts already taking place in the US this month it is however clear the drug industry cannot rest on its laurels.

On January 22, a shipment containing 49 pallets of pharmaceuticals was taken at a truckstop in Jackson, Georgia, but was recovered intact less than two hours later. Meanwhile a last-mile courier theft of 30 totes occurred in Detroit, Michigan on January 21. A covert tracking device allowed the police to trace the hijacked van, recovering a portion of the load but sadly too late to apprehend the suspects, who were armed.

The use of armed tactics is becoming more common in last mile delivery operations for pharmaceuticals, according to security specialist Freightwatch International.

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