Overview of recent prescription drug heists

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Associated Press

Posted on March 17, 2010 at 3:01 PM

At least 31 pharmaceutical thefts worth more than $500,000 were reported in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009. Of those, stolen goods from 15 eventually were recovered. Several dozen other drug thefts worth less than $500,000 also were reported.

In most cases, the cargo was stolen from trucks in transit or cargo containers, though a few larger thefts were recorded during burglaries at company warehouses.

Some recent pharmaceutical thefts of note:

— Feb. 9, 2009: A shipment of Levemir insulin worth $10.9 million was stolen from a truck in Conover, N.C. Most was never recovered. Some resurfaced at a Houston medical center, and some patients suffered unsafe blood sugar levels after using the drugs, which were not properly refrigerated.

— Feb. 19, 2009: A shipment of cancer drugs worth $800,000 was stolen from a truck at distribution center in Shephardsville, Ky. It was later recovered.

— March 23, 2009: An Exel distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., was burglarized of about $2 million in Bayer products. A Florida task force recovered one-third of the inventory a month later.

— May 5, 2009: A truck carrying $37 million worth of Eli Lilly insulin was stolen from a truck stop in Somerset, Pa., and recovered by police within an hour.

— June 17, 2009: A variety of products manufactured by Astellas Pharma was stolen from a truck stop in Denmark, Tenn. A shipment valued at $10 million was recovered in Florida four months later.

— July 9, 2009: About $10 million worth of allergy medications and Lovenox blood-thinning medicine were stolen from truck stop in Temple, Ga., and later recovered.

— Aug. 2, 2009: Large quantities of unspecified drug samples were stolen during a break-in at warehouse used by GlaxoSmithKline and the federal government in Chesterfield, Va. The government's flu vaccine was untouched. The company's drugs were not recovered.

— Aug. 5, 2009: Injectable form of Albuterol asthma medicine was stolen from truck parked in McKinney, Tex. The shipment was valued at $2 million and was later recovered.

— Sept. 8, 2009: About 1.3 million doses of Albuterol and another asthma medicine were stolen from a truck in Tampa, Fla. Information was unavailable on the value of the drugs, and whether they were ever recovered.

— Jan. 29, 2010: Unspecified quantities of GlaxoSmithKline medicines for asthma, migraines, diabetes, blood pressure and other purposes were stolen during an armed hijacking of a truck in the Baymon district of Puerto Rico. Information was unavailable on the value of the drugs, and whether they were ever recovered.

— Feb. 7, 2010: Almost 12,000 kits of ClindaReach acne treatment were stolen from a tractor-trailer in Monroe, Ohio. Information was unavailable on the value of the drugs, and whether they were ever recovered.

— March 14, 2010: Antidepressants and other drugs with a $75 million wholesale value were stolen during a burglary at an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse in Enfield, Conn. None were recovered as of Wednesday.

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Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FreightWatch International, Pharma Cargo Security Coalition.

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