Purdue Pharma, the developer of OxyContin (oxycodone), has introduced a national database to track, analyze, and inform law enforcement and the retail pharmacy community about pharmacy crime. The goal is to help solve and prevent pharmacy theft and other pharmacy-related crimes.
RxPATROL.org offers up-to-date information on local crime and information pharmacy owners can use to protect their stores and customers. The software also sends out crime and incident alerts to registered users and provides tools and resources to help deter and solve pharmacy theft. In addition, the website posts streaming video of robberies and closed circuit TV still photos of pharmacy crime suspects to help pharmacies identify potential thieves. For pharmacies without internet access, RxPATROL is accessible through social media via cell phone. For timely updates, tips, alerts, and links, follow @rxpatrol on Twitter.
For investigators, the database and its information is a gateway to communications with nearby agencies, allowing collaborative interaction without red tape or delays. Investigators can reach counterparts in other areas working on similar crimes or looking for the same suspects to share information, analyze trends, and develop patterns by analyzing times, dates, and locations of serial robberies. In addition to working with local law enforcement, Purdue has its own expert on hand to work independently with specialized data analysis software designed to identify trends from reports and incorporate video and photos.
Tools available on the website include a security checklist, training videos, an incident database search, and news and information about crimes and arrests.
RxPATROL is partnering with Crime Stoppers to offer cash rewards for anonymous tips that lead to the arrest of pharmacy crime perpetrators. Since 2005, tips phoned in to Crime Stoppers have resulted in more than 100 arrests for pharmacy crime. Rewards are attractive, up to $2,500 and callers are not required to testify in court. The number to provide a pharmacy crime tip and qualify for the reward is 1- 888- 4Rx-Tips (1-888-479-8477).
With rising incidence of pharmacy-related crimes, a national epidemic of prescription pill addicts, and pill mills cranking out scripts for millions of narcotics on a daily basis, a crime-monitoring database seems like a no-brainer. However, it seems ironic that Purdue, the makers of the most prevalent addiction problem on the market, are behind it. It smacks of insincere public relations, like the tobacco companies sponsoring health causes. See? We’re not bad guys, we’re concerned about your health, and we’re spending tons of money to prove it. So you should buy more cigarettes because we are so nice.
At least there’s an initiative, and something good may come of it, until it violates HIPAA laws in some way. I’m not sure how that could happen, but something about this, and other databases used to track medicines and pharmacy information, makes me nervous. Patients are, and should be, our number one concern, and that includes safety. I’m just not sure that patient confidentiality won’t be breached, and I’m not sure that Purdue’s motives are pure. Could this somehow be used to track customer-purchasing habits? Am I just being paranoid? Let me know if you have similar concerns.