The pharmaceutical sector has challenging — and urgent — issues to address.
Drug diversion, theft, counterfeiting, and fraud are serious problems that can lead healthcare and pharma organizations to face major legal and economic consequences, not to mention the damage to reputation that could arise when these issues are not taken seriously.
Inadequate controls and a lack of security measures to avert the theft and misuse of medications can affect any pharmaceutical company, particularly when there are large inventories in a facility. Moreover, the recent opioid crisis has exacerbated these challenges and is now impacting every pharmaceutical site in the country.
Yet, the risks of theft and drug diversion to patients is often unrecognized or overlooked. Nevertheless, when prescription drugs are obtained or used illegally, recipients might be exposed to diseases caused by contaminated needles and medicines. Likewise, if the user is a healthcare worker (HCW), drugs will likely impair job performance and endanger the health of patients.
Types of drugs commonly diverted:
- Opioids (Fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, methadone, and other hydrocodone combinations)
- Antidepressants (E.g., aripiprazole, ziprasidone, risperidone, quetiapine, and olanzapine)
- Hallucinogens (Such as benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam)
- Anabolic steroids
On the other hand, drug diversion may occur at any time of the pharmaceutical supply chain cycle, as drugs are distributed from the manufacturer to wholesale distributors, to pharmacies, or to the patient.
Although most pharma organizations have some form of drug diversion prevention program in place, there are typically major gaps, which can be mitigated with a multidisciplinary approach, best practices, and advanced physical security technologies, including access control, drug safes and locked cabinets, and smart video surveillance.
Counterfeit medicines are also a huge issue as fake medications may look legitimate, but contain little to none of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) listed on the label, an incorrect amount of API, inferior quality of API, wrong API, contaminants, or repacked expired products. These imitation drugs pose serious potential risks to unaware patients.
Types of drugs commonly counterfeited:
- Various chemotherapeutic drugs
- Erectile dysfunction drugs
- Weight loss aids
- Antianxiety drugs
Among those deceived into buying counterfeit drugs are consumers who use medicines inappropriately or who seek to purchase medications at discounted prices. In addition to being very cheap to make, counterfeit medicines closely resemble actual medications, with nearly identical labels and tablets, thus duping unsuspecting pharmacists and patients. It has been reported that drug counterfeiters use cheap and sometimes harmful materials such as brick dust, sheetrock, and flour to create their bogus tablets.
Access control is a MUST for the pharmaceutical industry
Access control is one of the most important aspects of a pharmaceutical company’s security since it provides a detailed account of people accessing the company’s premises. It can support the management of access and authentication, but also the operation of related security systems, when professionally integrated.
Pharmaceutical organizations require from their access control solution flexible security levels, including high-security settings, accurate reporting, and audits, the ability to unify with other security technologies, and optimization of processes.
Most important for decision-makers is the capability to monitor and control where people are at any time and provide differentiated access rights and authorization credentials, based on role, time, and area, quickly, easily, and securely.
Drug safes and locked cabinets
Drug safes are a critical deterrent that could successfully prevent the theft of drugs, even if the individual is able to break into the pharmacy.
Medications with a high potential for abuse should be kept in a locked metal safe that is secured in place and equipped with a time delay lock. Security safes and drug cabinets can be accessed by utilizing first-class access control methods.
By integrating appropriately these physical solutions with access control, security leaders can ensure 1) the migration is straightforward, with no downtime, and 2) the safety of their medications at all times.
Get a comprehensive picture of your site
Advanced video surveillance, that is overt, can promote the safety of people, assets, and medications by deterring crime, monitoring and recording the quality of production processes 24/7/365, and ensuring safety and the right conditions throughout the supply chain.
High-tech IP cameras with sensors, thermal imaging, biometrics, and integration with the access control system support the protection of equipment, production, and storage facilities, as well as the safety of inventory, which involves the integrity of medications, formulas, secret patents, experimental drugs, and valuable medicines.
Not only that, but the active, appropriate, and legal monitoring of your pharmaceutical site — in areas where there is not a reasonable expectation of privacy — is necessary to promote work disciplines, such as compliance to adhere to the dress code, workplace availability, adequate movement, and punctual time of arriving and leaving.
Moreover, cameras can motivate employees to do their best, diminish the potential for wrongful claims, maximize operational efficiency, and help your organization comply with manufacturing and safety regulations.
Video surveillance, access control, and physical security deterrents, like safes and cabinets, are valuable solutions to ensure pharmaceutical facilities remain safe and maintain the required conditions to protect the integrity of drugs and medications.
Securing the pharmaceutical sector
Security 101 can help pharmaceutical facilities find unique security solutions to accommodate their strict medical compliance laws.