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Prescription drug heists on the rise

Mar 17, 2010 8:08:00 PM - thestate.com
WASHINGTON - The $75 million heist at a pharmaceutical warehouse in Connecticut this week was just the most audacious example of a growing phenomenon: Thieves are stealing large quantities of prescription drugs for resale on the black market.

Pharmaceutical heists in the U.S. have quadrupled since 2006, a coalition of industry and law enforcement estimates. And experts say the reasons include spotty security and high drug prices that can make such thefts extremely lucrative.

While some stolen pills wind up overseas, others show up on pharmacy shelves in the U.S. with fake labels and lot numbers.

The theft from an Eli Lilly & Co. warehouse early Sunday is the largest of its kind on record and attests to the growing sophistication of those who pull off such crimes.

Authorities say the thieves cut a hole in the roof, lowered themselves into the building on ropes, disabled the alarm system and stole enough drugs to fill a tractor-trailer. The stolen pharmaceuticals included best-selling antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta.