Pharmacies ordered to use drug safes after surge in robberies

College of Pharmacists of B.C. cites dramatic 200 per cent increase in Lower Mainland robberies

All community pharmacies in B.C. will be required to store narcotic drugs in a time-delay safe to deter robbery attempts.

The College of Pharmacists of B.C. – the profession’s regulating body – said the enhanced security requirement set out under its new DrugSafeBC program is in response to a dramatic increase in pharmacy robberies and break-ins over the past seven years, along with rising levels of violence.

It cited a 200 per cent increase in pharmacy robberies in the Lower Mainland from 2012-13, noting weapons were used 92 per cent of the time.

The average robbery takes less than two minutes, some under 35 seconds, and delaying staff access to narcotics is expected to help.

The college said time-delay safes have cut robbery rates in U.S. pharmacies that use them and Safeway pharmacies in Canada have had no robberies since introducing them.

The directive comes as the college plans undercover investigations against methadone-dispensing pharmacies that operate in inappropriate premises or are suspected of improper practices.

The province previously booted nearly 30 Lower Mainland pharmacies from the government-funded PharmaCare program.