Cargo theft of pharmaceuticals continues to fall in the US

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Risk in other parts of the world remain higher and may be rising

Cargo theft—usually, hijacking the trailers involved in ground transportation, but also warehouse intrusions and last-mile stickups of store deliveries—is a constant worry of transportation managers, including those in healthcare products. The Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC; pcsc-pharma.com), an all-volunteer group of pharma transportation and security managers, reports that thefts in the US have continued to fall during 2013: the incident count is 23, down from last year’s 30 and about half of the level seen in 2009, 45. Average value of each theft has fallen as well, down from multiple millions of dollars in 2009-2010 to $238,000, says Charles Forsaith, executive director of PCSC and one of the founders of the group. The results were presented at PCSC’s annual meeting, held during Jan. 28-29.

Also at the meeting, Douglas Liptak, senior manager, brand protection at Sanofi-Aventis (Bridgewater, NJ) announced that a National Biopharmaceutical Security Council has been revitalized. NBSC existed, under a different name, years ago but was all but disbanded in the early 2000s. The group will have representation from interested pharma and biotech brand-protection managers; about 20 are already on board, says Liptak. A new website, NBSConline.org, is to open shortly. The group will focus on both theft and counterfeit issues, but what it will do as compared to the existing PCSC, and another industry group, the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (psi-inc.org), remains to be seen.

Forsaith says that the singlemost important cargo security measure, based on incident reports from the past year, is having dual-team drivers so that vehicles are never left unattended. Meanwhile, the group is tracking incidents in other parts of the world: Mexico, Brazil and Italy are current hot spots. Cargo theft—a problem for any industry that moves physical goods—has higher risks for the pharma industry because when a theft occurs, it could necessitate the withdrawal of an entire lot of a product, since the stolen products could be re-introduced into the supply chain by the thieves.

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