Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Thefts

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Thefts – CA State Board of Pharmacy – Virginia Herold, Executive Officer – Aug 2013

This text from a PowerPoint Slide Presentation gives a view into a high impact, but little-discussed, type of drug diversion: from the supply chain where huge amounts of pills are shipped and stored in various warehouses.

Changes in Controlled Substance Loss Profile


  • manufacturing losses rare
  • wholesale losses rare, usually losses within the wholesale premises
  • pharmacy losses – varied and small some self use.

2010 – TODAY


  • Eli Lily Warehouse – $75 million
  • Eli Lily truck $37 million
  • Teva truck – $11.8 million
  • Novo Novodisk truck – $11 million
  • Astellas truck – $10 million
  • Unknown company – $8 million
  • GSK Warehouse – $5 million
  • Exel Distribution Center – $3 million
  • Dey Pharmacueticals 2 trucks – $2 million each

2013 Wholesaling 

  • Internal losses
  • In-Transit losses
  • Manufacturer to wholesaler – concealed losses in large shipment
  • Wholesaler to pharmacy

Theft from

  • wholesaler’s delivery vehicle and drug contents
  • contract delivery drivers
  • contract mail delivery services (UPS, Fed Ex)

2013 Pharmacy

  • Total number of pharmacies reporting losses has increased
  • Total amount of controlled substances lost, increased

Individuals stealing from pharmacy

  • Pharmacy technicians, clerks, delivery drivers steal to sell and or self use
  • Pharmacists usually steal to self use
  • Employees knowing someone or affiliated themselves with gangs

Stealing becoming a supplement to regular income

Specific drugs lost more frequently

  • Vicodin products
  • Oxycontin
  • Alprazolam
  • Promethazine & Codeine


Legitimate pain patients must receive prompt, appropriate treatment to meet their pain needs without discrimination.

It is the pharmacist’s professional responsibility to make appropriate decisions regarding dispensing of pain medication for a legitimate medical need.

Pharmacist-In-Charge must review invoices for dangerous drugs received by pharmacy.

  • 100,000 tablets of Vicodin stolen by ordering technician from a children’s hospital and no one at the hospital knew until police arrested trusted employee. Did not normally stock Vicodin tabs.
  • 450,000 tablets of generic Vicodin stolen from a retail pharmacy by trusted employee. Pharmacy had no idea drugs were missing
  • 55,000 HPAP products stolen in 14 days from hospital pharmacy

How to Determine if You Have a Loss

Perpetual inventory – count and check inventory

If no perpetual —as soon as suspect a loss, inventory/count the drugs in question – Date and time your inventory

I’m shocked that a perpetual running inventory of controlled drugs isn’t absolutely required. When pain patients are called in for a “pill count”(as stipulated in their “opioid contract”), they are forced to account for every single pill. Yet, in places where thousands of pills are stored, the record-keeping seems much less stringent.

To be effective, inventory should be more rigorously monitored where millions of pills are being shipped from one business to another and thousands can disappear without notice.

5 thoughts on “Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Thefts

  1. canarensis

    “450,000 tablets of generic Vicodin stolen from a retail pharmacy by trusted employee. Pharmacy had no idea drugs were missing”
    Good lord, nearly half a million pills were missing & nobody noticed?!?! And “they” insist that CPPs are the problem. Unbefreakinglievable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Yup – huge volumes of opioids are handled by all kinds of people in shipping and packing, yet they aren’t closely supervised the way patients are for individual pills. Truly an outrage… and just one more among so many others these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy C

    Yeah! They covered this up,to protect the industry. It was a lot more profitable for them to blame pain patients. The DEA tracked every dose, but they were not allowed to scrutinize or do anything that could interfere with corporate profits. The media and politicians were in bed with the industry too. Pain patients and physicians were a convenient target, after all, people get “too much healthcare anyway.”

    This is the result of unlimited money in politics, and a complicit corporate media. As long as the money was rolling in, they disparaged people with pain. At the same time, they cast doubt on treating the addicted, as people died in my community, local media suggested prayer was an option.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Yes, the unlimited money flowing into politics has led to rich people controlling everything for their own gain and they’ve shredded our social safety net. Profits over people, that’s capitalism in America these days.



Other thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.