Pharma on alert after record drug heists

Who'd have thought that a pharmaceuticals-delivery driver would be required to pack a weapon? But that's what some drugmakers are doing now that the industry is suffering another year of multimillion-dollar drug heists. According to FreightWatch, pharma trucks and warehouses have been plundered 41 times so far this year, for an average haul of nearly $5 million each.

As the Financial Times reports, these 41 burglaries come on top of 47 last year, with those worth an average of $4 million each. "There is a steady rise in value and volume," Dan Burges of FreightWatch told the FT. "Thieves steal what the consumer wants to buy, with so much pharma advertising and people seeking to save money and purchase drugs cheaply."

Drugmakers victimized by thieves include Eli Lilly ($LLY), which lost some $76 million worth of meds to a warehouse theft. Then there's Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMS): A truck driver stopped for a break in Kentucky and came back 15 minutes later to find a host of drugs stolen. And thieves aren't only focusing on the obvious targets for black-market sales, a.k.a. prescription painkillers. They're also stealing meds for chronic diseases for online sales.

The FDA has stepped up its investigations, the FT reports, and drugmakers have been tightening up security, too. Some are requiring truck drivers to travel in pairs so there's always someone with the shipment. Some are, yes, giving drivers guns. And some are using tracking devices. Maybe the latter will help most, because GPS tracking could help law enforcement find and prosecute the perps.

- check out the FT story