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Pharmacy-related theft of controlled substances: RxPATROL® findings

Jennifer G. Erensen, MPH, J. David Haddox, DDS, MD, Maigh S. Attre, Luis N. Bauza, MS, CPP


Objective: To characterize pharmacy-related theft data reported to the Rx Pattern Analysis Tracking Robberies and Other Losses (RxPATROL®) database during the time periods before (2007-2010) and after (2011-2016) the August 2010 switch to reformulated OxyContin® (oxycodone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets (Purdue Pharma L.P.).

Methods: The RxPATROL® database was queried to identify characteristics associated with theft of drug products. Variables analyzed included incident counts, drugs involved (OxyContin or other oxycodone products), pharmacy-security features, and other incident-related information. The data captured from 2007 to 2010, defined as the original formulation period, were compared with those captured from 2011 to 2016, defined as the post-reformulation period.

Results: A total of 6,905 incidents were reported from 2007 to 2016, with robbery (51.8 percent) and burglary (26.4 percent) being the most commonly reported incidents. The number of total robbery incidents reported peaked in 2010 and remained steady. Incidents reported as robberies that involved OxyContin initially increased from 2007 to 2010 and then steadily decreased from 296 in 2010 to 13 in 2016. Total burglary reports decreased from 2009 to 2015 and slightly increased from 2015 to 2016. Total burglary reports that involved OxyContin decreased after 2009. Total burglary reports that involved oxycodone remained steady from 2009 to 2014, decreased from 2014 to 2015, and remained steady from 2015 to 2016. The majority of reported incidents occurred on weekdays and involved suspects who entered and exited through the front door at pharmacies without security features such as alarms, dead bolts, and cameras.

Conclusion: Following replacement of the original formulation of OxyContin with a new formulation that has abuse-deterrent properties in 2010, pharmacy thefts of OxyContin reported to the RxPATROL® database decreased. The decreases were not fully explained by concurrent trends in total robbery or burglary incidents reported to the RxPATROL® database over the same time period.


pharmacy theft, drug diversion, pharmacy security, opioid analgesics, abuse-deterrent formulation, RxPATROL®

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