With the proliferation of protests around the country — and risk of drug diversion from looting or break-ins, industry organizations are calling for local and state authorities to better protect pharmacies to prevent drug diversion.
NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told NACDS chain members this week that he has been communicating with governors, state attorneys general and state boards of pharmacies, as well as the U.S. attorney general and the Drug Enforcement Agency, about the need to protect pharmacies nationwide.
“There is a lot that needs to be said and done about all aspects of this situation. However, NACDS’ communication to our leaders at this moment urges immediate action to help prevent the targeting of pharmacies for the theft of controlled substances," Anderson said. "I would urge that your company also reach out to the governors in the states that you serve, reiterating this message."
In a letter to the governors, NACDS said, “With the significant unrest and the unprecedented civil disturbances in cities and towns across the country, we urge you to immediately provide special law enforcement protection to secure community pharmacies across the state. Ongoing physical security issues demand precise maximum law enforcement protection against potential and actual high threats of break-ins and looting. Without special protections, community pharmacies will continue to be targeted and pillaged by well-planned attacks during this unprecedented time, which may lead to vast quantities of controlled substances being spilled on the streets within the state."
The letter also said, “Following the attacks on pharmacies, greater attention is clearly due to these vulnerable entities because of the potential severity of criminal threats and corresponding community harm. Specifically, state and local law enforcement must undertake substantial measures to increase protection of these premises to avoid fueling the black market with vast quantities of controlled substances and adding to the opioid epidemic.
“We desperately need your strong leadership and that of the state’s law enforcement agencies to ensure that the unfolding situation does not become substantially worse.”
NACDS is not the only industry organization calling for more secure pharmacies. The National Community Pharmacists Association also spoke out on behalf of local pharmacies.
“In recent days we have received reports from long-time members that their pharmacies were damaged and looted in the rioting that broke out during the peaceful protests. We have been following many similar reports around the country," NCPA CEO Doug Hoey said. "These are all family-owned businesses that have been serving people in their communities for years, and sometimes generations, and have been on front lines of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those communities are underserved, where the local pharmacy is the only accessible health care provider."
He noted, “We understand the protests and agree with the goals. We and our members are appalled by the horrific injustice that took place in Minneapolis and in other communities throughout the country, and we pray for justice and healing. The destruction and robbery of local businesses advance neither. We implore local officials to do more to protect local businesses from the rioting. They provide opportunities, jobs, and services to people who needed them before the riots. They will need them more after.”