Just yesterday I was having lunch with Jeff Aldridge of Durham, N.C., a noted healthcare security consultant with Security Assessments International who spends his spare time looking into drug diversion crimes, rather than on the golf course. Jeff and I were there predominantly to discuss hospital security trends (SIW will be hosting an upcoming webinar on this topic; stay tuned for registration details), but we migrated our discussion to drug diversion.
"Almost every pharmaceutical company has been hit," explained Aldridge, who added that it is often the opiate-based drugs which are legally prescribed which are being "diverted" into the hands of drug dealers. We talked about a recent case he had been involved in where a doctor had set up a side practice (really, his only practice) out of his home and was dealing hundreds of pills a week, probably doing a few hundred thousand dollars worth of "business" a year selling these prescription medications to drug users in the area.
"Is it a supply chain security problem?," I asked. While shipment thefts do occur, he said, it's often performed at the pharmacy level. He related the story of how a pharmacist who split his time between two North Carolina pharmacies had in the morning filled a 120-pill prescription at one pharmacy, and then split his day at another local pharmacy to fill in for an employee who was out of town. The same woman who had brought in the 120-pill prescription that morning at one pharmacy showed up at the second pharmacy with another prescription for the same drug. He filled the prescription but called in his suspicions to the local law enforcement. The LEOs tracked the name of the prescribing doctor and found that he was running a prescription drug reselling business out of his condo. They sat in an unmarked car and watched scores of people come in and out of the home. A couple nights later, they investigated the trash that the man had left at the curb and found evidence of a major drug reselling operation, and within a few days time, they were back with a warrant, having broken a significant local drug diversion racket.
Asked about the significance of the case, he says it underscores the multitude of threats that businesses have to identify. Simply put, it's not always the armed robberies or the late-night break-ins that are a concern. These kinds of incidents underscore the importance of educating employees about threats, and making your non-security employees an extension of your security team.
In the News This Week
Awards, partnerships, bad faxes and crime stats
First, a congratulations is in order to a couple businesses. ABF (the freight company) was recognized by the American Trucking Association's Security Council for its 2007 Excellence in Security Award. Notably, this is the fourth time that ABF has been recognized for securing its transportation and delivery services since the awards were first presented in 2001. Secondly, GE Security earned recognition for its CommerceGuard container security solution by industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. The CommerceGuard system is designed to identify unauthorized intrusions into sealed cargo containers.
Additionally in the security business, the PSA Security Network's partner program added videoNEXT, a video surveillance systems provider. And while it's bad news, you should know that the FBI has indicated that violent crime is again on the rise, especially in our nation's larger cities.
Finally, fax machines aren't seen as much of a security threat, but that's just what a fax was this week in Massachusetts. An employee at a bank there saw a fax come in with an illustration of match and fuse heading toward a bomb. Thinking it a bomb threat, the facility and about a dozen nearby businesses were all evacuated until the all-clear was given. The culprit? The fax machine -- a problem with transmission or the machine itself cut off the text announcing a new bank promotion that should have appeared below the image of the bomb. Chalk that up to experience.