Feds step up drug enforcement of pharmacies

The effort to combat the illegal flow of pharmaceuticals from legitimate businesses is intensifying as prescription drug abuse remains a top public health concern.

The effort to combat the illegal flow of pharmaceuticals from legitimate businesses is intensifying as prescription drug abuse remains a top public health concern. DEA has increased the amount of surprise inspections on businesses in recent years, and the California Board of Pharmacy is considering making it mandatory for pharmacies to inventory their drug supplies once every quarter to better stem the illicit flow. Pharmacies are currently required to report when drugs go missing. Last year in California, 1 million dosages of medicine were reported lost, says Virginia Herold, executive officer of the state board. The year before it was about 1.5 million. "The problem is controlled substances are so valuable on the street compared to their value in the pharmacy," Herold says. Employees who divert medicine are either addicted to the drugs themselves, or just selling them for the money, says DEA Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Lenox. Other major problems that authorities look for include poor record keeping and pharmacists who are more focused on filling a prescription rather than doing their due diligence to make sure the prescription is legitimate and not stolen, forged, or counterfeit.