Pharmacy heists driven by desperate OxyContin-hungry thieves have been popping up around the country at an alarming rate. In Washington, where such robberies outnumber those in all other states, pharmacy chain Walgreens is fighting back, installing new time-delayed safes in its pharmacies to hold supplies of the drug, the Spokesman-Review reports. The timed locks take several minutes to open, halting immediate access to the painkiller – often at gunpoint or knifepoint – and allowing police time to arrive on the scene, according to the paper. A Walgreens spokesperson told the paper that the company – which has spent millions of dollars to upgrade security systems and surveillance cameras to address the growing problem – made the move because pharmacy robberies in the state have gotten out of hand, putting employees and customers at risk.
Meanwhile, Purdue has funded RxPATROL, an information clearinghouse for data related to pharmacy robberies that involve the loss of controlled substances. It has also starting offering $1,000 cash rewards for information about pharmacy crimes.
That is 0.0005% of the more than $2 billion a year the company reaps in sales of OxyContin, which was the nation’s top-selling prescription painkiller last year, according to the Associated Press.