Pharmacies around the country are facing a serious and dangerous issue. With the opiate epidemic sweeping the nation, the price and demand for prescription painkillers is growing. The demand for painkillers such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and other opiate based pain medication are escalating to levels never seen before. Pharmacies are becoming the new banks for addicts and dealers. Most pharmacies have less security than banks, but that might be changing as substance abuse grows. Rather than drug addicts robbing gas stations, and convenience stores in order to get their money for drugs, they are robbing pharmacies directly, demanding the high priced pills. With some pills selling as high as $80 a piece on the street, one robbery can clear thousands of pills to feed one's addiction or to sell. Many pharmacy robbers aren't even demanding cash, they are strictly after the pills.
When addicts get to a point where they become extremely desperate, there is no stopping them. Their brain's natural chemicals are completely out of sync, and they develop mood swings and irrational thinking. The desire and need for the drug outweighs common sense and most addicts lose the fear of getting caught. The risk of prison time or death takes a back seat to the idea of hundreds if not thousands of pills at their disposal. This type of thinking is raising concern for pharmacy owners and their employees all over the country.
Many pharmacy employees are demanding higher security. Many believe they need an armed security guard, indoor and outdoor cameras as well as signs outside letting the store patrons know they are being filmed and recorded. With pharmacies holding drugs that are in high demand by both addicts and dealers, the danger involved with working with these substances may not be worth it to some employees. When an addict is going through withdrawal and is sick, knowing that more pills will make them feel "normal" is a major drive being seen in the increase of pharmacy robberies. The major problem is that the cravings for the pills are so strong the addict has little patience for anyone who tries to stop them or stand in their way.
According to the NY Daily News, a 13-man crew of prescription pill peddlers swiped more than a million dollars worth of drugs from pharmacies in a three-year spree of 125 burglaries and attempted burglaries around New York City, authorities announced Wednesday.
Two men led the team and cased out the stores they wanted to burglarize before they would break in, stealing Oxycodone and other prescription painkillers. With the amount of drugs stolen from the successful robberies, street profits are well into the millions of dollars.
If you combine addict's uncontrollable desire for the medications, dealers who see dollar signs with these drugs and pharmacies that lack the security and training for their employees, we see a dangerous disaster brewing. These large corporate chain pharmacies need to hire trained armed guards, and possibly even painkiller dispensing safes that are on a timed delay, allowing pharmacists to access a limited number of pain pills at a time. This will not deter all of the robberies that take place, but will greatly reduce the amount that occur each year. Employees will have a sense of safety knowing they are not prey for the addicts and dealers.