Drug thefts by pharmacists are persistent problem

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

UPDATED Tuesday, March 4, 2014-- 5:45 p.m.

"Being that we work with this everyday it's bound to happen," said pharmacist Matt Mabie.

Oxycodone, hydrocodone... controlled substances like these make up 10 to 15% of the prescriptions at Hometown Pharmacy in Cottage Grove where Mabie says safeguards are in place like security cameras and inventory checks.

"A manual inventory in addition to virtual inventory so that allows us to have almost triple checks in place," said Mabie.

Individual pharmacy safeguards are met with the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board's requirement for records of every substance received and distributed.

But loopholes continue to be found with 64 pharmacists caught stealing or diverting drugs over the past couple of years often for personal use and sometimes on the job.

"More than likely they were fudging the inventory or taking a bottle here and there," said Mabie.

The board has taken action against these pharmacists. The board didn't want to be on camera but say this means, depending on the case, limiting or revoking the pharmacist license, random drug testing, and requiring treatment and supervision.

"Inside the industry, it's not a surprise," said Mabie.

Mabie says pharmacists have about four years of schooling, and these disciplinary actions could equate to about the same time until they're back to work on their own.

"It's my livelihood, and if I abuse that I'm unemployable going forward," said Mabie.

There are about 8,000 licensed pharmacists in the state, so the number may be small in the grand scheme of things. But this problem is a large part of the cases the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board handles.


Posted Sunday, March 2, 2014 --- 6:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- It's a persistent problem: thefts of controlled substances among pharmacists who have ready access to drugs and a duty to safeguard them.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that relatively few of the state's nearly 6,000 licensed pharmacists have been caught diverting drugs. But the problem makes up a large proportion of cases handled by the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board.

A State Journal analysis finds that of 64 pharmacists the board took action against between 2011 and 2013, 41 were suspected of or had engaged in drug diversion.

Many of the thefts were for personal use.

Christopher Decker, chief executive officer of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, says pharmacists are trained to guard medications carefully, but it may be impossible to prevent all drug thefts by them.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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