Bennet Calls for Crack Down on Prescription Drug Theft at Recently Burglarized Pharmacies

In Wake of Pharmacy Burglaries, Bennet Will Push Bill to Crack Down on Pharmaceutical Theft

Denver, CO – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet stopped by two Colorado pharmacies today as part of his call for creating stronger measures to crack down on prescription drug theft. Bennet’s visits to Cornell Pharmacy in Denver and Ivywild Pharmacy in Colorado Springs, both of which were recently victims of pharmaceutical theft, served to highlight the need to pass the Strengthening and Focusing Enforcement to Deter Organized Stealing and Enhanced Safety Act, or the SAFE DOSES Act, which Bennet introduced with several of his Senate colleagues.

“Armed robberies in drug stores in Colorado and across the country put the safety of our pharmacy owners, employees and Colorado families at risk.  We need to prevent prescription drug theft by giving law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on these crimes,” said Bennet. “This bill will support local pharmacies, like Cornell and Ivywild, as they work to protect their merchandise and their employees.”

Over the last year, a spate of burglaries have targeted pharmacies in Colorado and across the country. Cornell Pharmacy in Denver has been burglarized twice, costing the business about $10,000 in lost merchandise, mainly controlled narcotics, and $2,000 in repairs. Additionally, the pharmacy hired a part-time security guard. Ivywild Pharmacy in Colorado Springs lost $5,500 when it was burglarized.

Pharmacies in Colorado in cities and towns including Broomfield, Colorado Spring, Denver, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Lakewood and Wheatridge have been victimized.

Nationally, news reports have noted that armed robberies at pharmacies increased by 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, while the number of pills stolen went from 706,000 to 1.3 million. Thieves are overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin or Roxicodone, or hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin and Norco. Both narcotics are highly addictive.

The SAFE DOSES Act, which Bennet introduced along with U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ), would provide law enforcement with the tools they need to crackdown on criminals stealing prescription drugs.

The bill would:

  • Increase criminal sentences for robbing pharmacies of controlled substances
  • Enhance penalties for stolen medical product “fences,” which occurs when someone who knowingly buys stolen property then later resells it in a legitimate market
  • Provide for civil penalties and forfeiture of profits made off of stolen medical products. Current federal criminal laws do not distinguish between stealing pharmaceutical drugs and stealing a bunch of CDs—even though the potential harm is vastly greater when medical products are involved.  

Without the potential for stiff penalties that is spelled out in clear federal sentencing guidelines, these crimes—which pose enormous danger to innocent victims and impose an economic and public health hardship on our communities—may not be treated with sufficient seriousness by our justice system. 

For more information on the bill, click here.