Tips to boost pharmacy security emerge in DEA webinar on burglaries, co-sponsored by NCPA

NCPA April 15, 2024

DEA delivered a webinar last week on the increase in burglaries of independent pharmacies across the nation involving controlled substances, as well as an increase in e-prescribing fraud, and what pharmacies can do to prevent both. DEA presenters included Kerry Hamilton, Section Chief of Pharmaceutical Investigations, Hauns Charters, Executive Assistant for Diversion Operations, and Erin Hager, Diversion Investigator in the Phoenix-Tucson Tactical Division Squad. The webinar was co-sponsored by NCPA and APhA, and more than 800 members of both organizations were in attendance to hear the DEA’s security suggestions to consider (that are not required by regulations):

  • Motion sensors should cover all doors, controlled substance storage areas, and drive-through windows. DEA advises setting the motion sensors on the highest sensitivity setting, and making sure that they cover floor to ceiling.

  • Don’t stack items in front of motion sensors.

  • Don’t set motion sensors on the lowest sensitivity.

  • Security cameras should cover multiple areas of the inside (doors, drive-through window, controlled substance storage areas) and outside of the building (doors, drive-through window, parking lot). High-definition cameras capture more detail. Save the footage for law enforcement.

  • Use a cellular or battery backup on the security system in case power gets cut.

  • Motion lights are good to illuminate the exterior of the building and potentially scare off burglars. Check these at night if the sun sets after the store closes.

  • Consider using silent alarms to buy more time for law enforcement to respond.

  • Locking roll-down gates can be used over drive-through windows, doors, and at the pharmacy counter to keep intruders out of controlled substance storage areas.

  • A safe or substantially constructed cabinet could be equipped with a lock and contact switch connected to the alarm system. A safe could be equipped with a vibration sensor to detect cutting or drilling. Consider bolting the safe/cabinet to the floor or wall.

While the webinar was not recorded and the slides are not available per DEA’s request, general security requirements for pharmacies are found in 21 CFR 1301.71(a) and 1301.75(b).