CINCINNATI -- After a string of pharmacy robberies hit the Cincinnati and Dayton areas this spring, CVS Pharmacy is taking steps to make it more difficult for would-be robbers to grab the drugs and run.
CVS Pharmacy announced Wednesday it has installed time-delay safes in more than 170 locations in the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton markets as well as nearby locations in central and southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.
Medications sought after by robbers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, will now be stored in time-delay safes in every CVS Pharmacy location in these three markets.
Pharmacy representatives said time-delay safes help deter pharmacy robberies by electronically delaying the time it takes for pharmacy employees to be able to open the safe. Employees must enter a code to open the safe, which automatically triggers a wait time before the safe is electronically unlocked.
The time-delay function cannot be overridden and is designed to serve as a deterrent to would-be pharmacy robbers whose goal is to enter and exit their robbery targets as quickly as possible. All CVS Pharmacy locations with time-delay safes are displaying highly-visible signage to inform the public that time-delay safes are in use to prevent on-demand access to controlled substance narcotics.
“Pharmacy robberies are a challenging issue for every pharmacy and we are committed to doing all we can to reduce the number of pharmacy robbery incidents in the Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton markets,” said Alisa Ulrey, area vice president of CVS Pharmacy in Ohio. “We believe that time-delay safes, combined with other security policies and procedures in place at our stores, will help drastically reduce these incidents and ensure that our stores remain a safe environment for shopping and filling prescriptions.”
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer applauded the move as a proactive step against opioid abuse.
“Drug abuse continues to be a substantial health and safety risk in Montgomery County," Plummer said. "With overdose deaths in Montgomery County being at an historical high, I believe any efforts to control substance narcotic medications that are sought after by robbers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, is welcome."
CVS Health also works to prevent prescription drug abuse through community education, efforts to encourage safe disposal of unused medication and increased access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone. The company’s Pharmacists Teach program brings CVS pharmacists to schools across the country to talk to students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. More than 250,000 students across the country, including more than 10,000 in Ohio, have participated in the program.
CVS Health has also joined with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to create the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, which donates disposal units to local police departments, providing a safe and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medication. This program has collected more than 80 metric tons, or 175,000 pounds of unused prescriptions, keeping them out of medicine cabinets where they could be misused.
Additionally, CVS Health has worked with 41 states – including Ohio and Kentucky – to increase access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. Patients can obtain this life-saving medication, which is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, without an individual prescription in these states.