Amid ongoing protests across the country, pharmacy staff and owners are seeking ways to stay safe and avoid damage or looting. In an effort to assist pharmacies, the California State Board of Pharmacy released a list of recommendations for pharmacies that have been damaged, looted, or vandalized.

The safety of owners, staff, and patients is of the upmost concern, according to a press release from the Board. They strongly recommended boarding up locations in impacted areas, in an effort to minimize damage and prevent drug losses.

When safe, pharmacies also have to protect drugs, pharmacy records, and computers containing confidential patient information. Any of these items should be secured, and all dangerous drugs and devices should be inventoried to identify any losses.

If the staff are unable to secure the drugs, records, and computers, the press release included several other options:
  • Transferring or storing the drugs with a wholesaler owned or under common control by the wholesaler from whom the drugs were acquired
  • Transferring the drugs to a licensed wholesaler acting as a reverse distributor
  • Transferring or storing the drugs in another pharmacy under common control
  • Storing the drugs at a board-licensed premise including another pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, clinic, wholesaler, or third-party logistics provider

Adulterated drugs may also present an issue if the pharmacy was damaged or broken into. According to the Board press release, drugs damaged by fire and water are considered adulterated and should be quarantined for proper disposal using a licensed wholesaler acting as a reverse distributor. This includes filled prescriptions waiting to be picked up.

If the drug storage area is accessed by unauthorized individuals, staff should consider whether the drugs that are not in sealed manufacturer containers are considered adulterated. If they are, they should be quarantined for proper disposal, including prescriptions that have already been filled.

Finally, if there is any evidence of improper temperature storage for drugs requiring refrigeration, those drugs should be quarantined for proper disposal. Before any drugs are destroyed, the press release urged pharmacies to check with local law enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and business insurance providers in case the drugs need to be examined as evidence.

If pharmacies are unable to continue serving customers, patients should be notified and told how they can get refills of their prescriptions. Another pharmacy can refill the prescription if they share a common electronic file without transferring the prescription, or patients can contact their physician to obtain a new prescription to fill at another pharmacy.


REFERENCE
Pharmacies Damaged, Looted, Vandalized, or Destroyed by Fire [news release]. California State Board of Pharmacy; June 1, 2020. https://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/about/news_release/damaged_pharmacies.pdf. Accessed June 3, 2020.