In response to the dramatic increase in pharmacy robberies, the New York Police Department will place decoy pill bottles, which will resemble sealed bottles of oxycodone, a strong narcotic painkiller, but will contain a GPS device instead, in order to track thieves. The Police Department is willing to expand this initiative in pharmacies throughout New York City, as it is already implemented in several pharmacies in the United States. Zintro experts discuss whether this method will discourage addicts, who steal painkillers and lead to a reduction in violent crimes at pharmacies.
As clinical editor, Aaron Csicseri indicates, once this initiative is implemented, drug lords will develop countermeasures, even though he agrees that aggressive action is required to curb the nations prescription narcotic addiction problem. “The program puts pharmacists and technicians in harms way, since previous recommendations from law enforcement suggested that pharmacy staff completely comply with all demands made by a robber to avoid harm. However, if a robber, who is now aware of the ‘bait bottle’ program, identifies such a tracking device, he/she is much more likely to harm the staff member who handed the item over,” notes Csicseri. “The success of ‘Operation Safety Cap” will depend on how well the tracking devices are hidden, and how closely the bait bottles and placebo pills contained within mimic that of the real narcotic.”
Addiction specialist, Debra-Lynn Bellefeuille doesn’t believe a decoy deterrent will be a defining action to put an end to pharmaceutical robberies since individuals, who are held captive by their addictions won’t consider the consequences of their actions. “This ‘Marketing’ ploy to satisfy the media, in my opinion is a waste of public funds. There is no logic to the drive to obtain more of the substance even in the face of dire consequences,” she explains. Moreover, Bellefeuille places emphasis on the need for more regulation regarding both the prescription of similar medications and the subsequent follow up. “What actions are being put in place once the individuals are located through GPS? Is there extensive help for the individuals to get help for the addiction? What about the doctors who freely prescribe the medication with no plans in place for the slow titration reduction,” adds Bellefeuille. “I feel the medical profession is at fault for the increased criminal activities associated with short acting pain medication like oxycodone.”
According to Patrick Stone, an expert in regulatory affairs and biotechnology, drug distributors as well as federal and local law enforcement agencies have started GPS tracking through embedded tracking sensors and have always GPS tracked narcotic shipments in route through distribution trucking suppliers. “Narcotic opioid pain killing medication is the most prescribed and abused medication, even more than all illicit drugs combined. There is no one cure all for the most sought after opioid narcotic painkillers in bad economic times when folks can least afford the full prescription price,” he notes. “The professional individuals stealing the shipments or pharmacy suppliers may have countermeasures to find and discard the GPS sensors so the struggle will continue to go on in order to develop small and more sophisticated micros sensor GPS tracking devices. I think a balanced approach between GPS micro-sensors and reviewed accountability of what gets shipped and reconciliation will reduce theft in transit.”
By Idil Kan