Every once in a while I will hear a story about a pharmacist who breaks the law and steals some medications in some form of criminal act leading to their arrest. I inevitably ask myself a question that always comes to my mind when I hear these stories: why would someone risk it all?
The recent story I heard involved a pharmacist who was taking medications that belonged to patients at a local hospital. It seemed so crazy to me that a pharmacist might risk their career and freedom for a few pills no matter what the circumstances were that lead them to act that way. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the logic behind risking your career like that to steal something like prescription medications. It seems reckless and just plain stupid.
That recent story of the pharmacist stealing patient medications made me think of a story from a few years back in a town I used to live. There was a pharmacist there who was stealing medications from their pharmacy by taking bottles of pills at closing after everyone else had gone home. That pharmacist was arrested after the pharmacy chain set up cameras, caught him on tape, and stopped him leaving work one night with bottles of drugs in his pocket. What struck me about hearing that story was the fact that this particular pharmacist was the pharmacist in charge at that location were he was arrested. I can’t help but wonder why pharmacists resort to these kinds of activities when they know their own livelihood will be on the line.
Perhaps these crimes are merely a crime of opportunity. We all know that as pharmacists we have unprecedented access to controlled substances. They literally hand you the keys to the controlled substance safe when you are a licensed pharmacist. And working around the drugs for so long everyday might just make some people think about how easy it could be to take some pills for themselves. Inventories can be adjusted and pill bottles can somehow disappear. But I can’t believe that anyone with our job would actually risk it all even if they thought it was possible to get away with the crime. That to me sounds crazy!
The only other thing I can think of to make these crimes make any sense in my mind is the fact that those pharmacists might have just been addicted to some drug just like anyone else. Addiction happens and pharmacists are human too and we all could potentially become part of the drug addiction problem we have in this country. It just seems odd for someone who should be a champion promoter for the proper use and distribution of controlled substances to get caught up in illegally obtaining drugs themselves.
There are programs that pharmacists can go through if they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. I would hope that any pharmacist dealing with these sorts of issues would take advantage of those programs rather than ignoring them and later finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. There is no need to potentially throw your career down the drain because of a stupid mistake. Get help!
Pharmacists have too bright a future ahead of them to do things like steal medications and risk everything for a few pills. I hope that every pharmacist that would even remotely consider such action would stop and think about the potential consequences involved in taking prescription medications unlawfully. We should be setting an example for the rest of the general public instead of getting caught up in this kind of criminal activity ourselves. And pharmacists of all people know the dangers involved in taking medications that aren’t prescribed for them under the direction of a treating physician.
Every student that goes through pharmacy school should be aware of the fact that their own career will be on the line if they break the law. Think about all of the work you do just to become a pharmacist. Would you really want to throw all of that away after working so hard to get that PharmD behind your name? To me the answer is a resounding no!
So I am left without answers to explain what happened every time I hear another story about a pharmacist who is arrested on drugs charges. It seems very reckless and self destructive to potentially throw away an entire career and education just to steal some narcotics. But it happens and I’m sure it will happen again in the future. And I can’t help but wonder why someone would risk it all like that? I never have an answer for that question. Do you?
The Redheaded Pharmacist