An incident aimed at illegally sourcing controlled drugs by setting up a false pharmacy account with a wholesaler has occurred.
Community Pharmacy Scotland is warning that the “emerging scam” tactic “relies upon exploitation of the daily processes of the community pharmacy network.” It has published a link to a report prepared by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s controlled drugs team.
This describes how a new customer account was set up with a wholesaler after it had taken a number of different steps to confirm legitimacy/ Among them was checking details on the pharmacy’s apparent website; this had a General Pharmaceutical Council premises number on it, but not the GPhC green cross logo, a voluntary scheme to verify it has been registered with the GPhC.
A few days later, on Friday 21st July, the new account then placed the order for fentanyl, methylphenidate buprenorphine, temazepam and diazepam, in total worth around £5,000. The order was to be delivered and invoiced to a legitimate pharmacy premises.
After further confirmatory calls from the wholesaler, the delivery took place on Wednesday July 26th. However, as the CDs were not known to the courier and the pharmacy was not expecting them, no CD supply receipt signature was requested. It was only on unpacking the pharmacy’s expected general order that the unrequested CDs were found inside it, and the scam was identified.
“The community pharmacy contacted the wholesaler to report the unexpected nature of the delivery and it was discovered that the order had been placed from an account created online which led back to the fake pharmacy website.” A phone number on the website was also found not to link to the community pharmacy.
The police have been involved and its STOP unit has given advice, including regarding the security of staff in the pharmacy.