Pharma cargo theft in decline, says new FreightWatch report

By Natalie Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

The number of in-transit pharmaceutical robberies in the US has been sliced by almost half since last year, according to FreightWatch’s Biannual Cargo Theft Report.

Fourteen thefts in the pharmaceutical sector were recorded in the first half of 2011, down from 25 thefts recorded over the same period in 2010.

And the number of pharma burglaries make up only three per cent of the report – which analyses cargo thefts by product type – this year, down from five per cent in the equivalent study last year..

The average loss value so far is also significantly less than in 2010, with $5.12m (€ 3.58m) and $540,000 respectively.

However, when discounting the astronomical cost of a heist​ in March 2010, in which $75m worth of drugs were lifted from the Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut, the cost shifts drastically to $394,000.

The $146,000 increase in average loss value this year seems to be at odds with the number of thefts valued at $1m or more has been declining rapidly since 2008.

Five incidents with losses of seven figures or higher were noted from January to June in 2008, and the same again in 2009.

Meanwhile only two six-figure or higher swoops were recorded in the first half of 2010, and just a single raid in 2011.

Of course the juxtaposition between 2011’s elevated average loss value (when discounting the freak incident in Enfield) and the reduced number of $1m or higher robberies could simply be a result of the reduced frequency of thefts raising the average.

Increased security

Many recent papers have sought to solve the problem of theft in the pharmaceutical sector, not least because often drugs are temperature-sensitive and perishable and, if handled incorrectly, could pose a serious threat when they hit the market.

Dan Purtell, Senior Vice President at BSI Supply Chain Solutions, recently wrote a risk-based analysis​ of pharma supply chain security concerns, in which he suggested a “methodical approach to security that provides end-to-end protection.”

Whilst another recent article titled Understanding ePedigree and Serialization​ on Prism Life Sciences Blog looks at the use of mass serialization – allocating a unique serial number to all products at the item level - as a solution.

It also studies the use of ePedigree where an electronic record is created surrounding the chain of sale and ownership of drugs and medical devices.

So in the pursuit of the continued decline in pharmaceutical theft, the question stands; what is the key reason behind the recent drop, how do we identify it, and how can we continue in the same vein?

Related topics: Regulatory & Safety

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