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Pharma Cargo Theft Down to Lowest Recorded Levels

By Zachary Brennan , 05-Feb-2013

The US pharma industry in 2012 saw the lowest number of reported cargo thefts and the lowest average value per incident since the data collection began in 1996. 

In 2012, the average loss of the 30 reported cargo thefts was $168,219, which was a significant decline from an average loss of more than $550,000 in 2011 and less than a tenth of the $3.78m average in 2010, according to the FreightWatch Cargo Theft report released last week.

Although there was an overall downturn in 2012, there was a trend in the past year of more attempts to rob or steal pharma from last-mile couriers, which are entities that deliver drugs to a pharmacy, as opposed to shippers that deliver goods from manufacturers to wholesalers or wholesalers to distributors, Charles Forsaith, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC), told In-Pharmatechnologist.com. Thefts of last mile couriers also have a tendency to almost always involve physical threats, while other types of thefts don’t, Forsaith said.

Of the 30 pharmaceutical thefts in 2012, seven (23%) occurred in Texas, primarily Houston; four (13%) occurred in Georgia; while Florida, Michigan and New Jersey had three thefts each. Forsaith said criminals usually understand the transportation infrastructure and these particular locations are where lots of goods are transported through.

Although there is data on location, the PCSC has never been able to specifically determine if one particular product is targeted by criminals over another, Forsaith said. He also said there isn’t any indication that criminals are getting information on what types of products are in the trucks, though criminals detained in the past have said that they know products in a refrigerated trailer are generally more expensive than those in other trailers.

But the security industry protecting pharma shipments seems to be progressing, especially as the PCSC has expanded to 1200 representatives, including a high percentage of the drug manufacturers in the US. “We as an industry have improved the ways we protect our shipments,” Forsaith added, noting recent investments in modern tracking technology, shared technology, and aligning with law enforcement and supply chain security, all of which seem to be forcing criminals to shift gears and target other commodities.

International Theft

Internationally, Brazil and South Africa have a higher than normal incidence of cargo theft, and though there are differences in foreign customs and government requirements, the basic principles of sharing technology and vetting entities, such as freight forwarders, are the same as domestic operations, Forsaith said.

The latest report, published in March, covers 2011, which was the first year on record that the pharmaceutical industry did not have the highest value per theft incident. The average pharmaceutical incident averaged about $585,000.

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