Combatting theft in pharma through two-way radio systems

Despite advancements in fulfilment and tracking technology, pharmaceutical theft remains a major challenge for organisations across the globe.

Based on data from the British Standards Institution (BSI), the top countries for pharmaceutical theft are the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, Italy and India. In these countries, thieves ‘strike the trucks moving pharmaceutical products globally’, often using inconspicuous methods to gain access to the drugs. The most common tactics used are:

1) stealing from the trucks surreptitiously or by ‘overtly accessing the payload’,

2) hijacking the truck and

3) stealing the drugs from a warehouse/facility.

For pharma organisations, this data is worrying – certainly – but it’s also a rude awakening in that the tracking and traceability of drugs must improve.

But while strides have been made to enhance the tracking and traceability of drugs through serialisation (which is expected to cover 80% of the global drug supply by 2020), the different regulations across regions and the increasing cost of supply chain management is making the transition process time-consuming and complex.

Of course, serialisation is just one method of tracking and traceability and, in any conversation about ‘combatting theft’, communication must play a role – and an effective solution is a two-way radio system. Here are just a few ways two-way radio systems can help combat theft in pharma.

Real-time communication

The principal benefit of having a two-way radio system is real-time, site-wide (local or regional) communication. For example, a pharma organisation could set up its own dedicated two-way radio network that covers an entire region – achieved through a combination of repeater stations and trunked digital radio systems, such as MOTOTRBO Capacity Plus. This would give supervisors the ability to keep in touch with drivers collecting and delivering medicines, ensuring everything is OK on their end.

For greater coverage, this network could then be augmented further through the addition of WAVE Push-to-Talk (PTT), a subscription-based group communication service that connects teams across different devices, networks and locations.

This would provide even greater coverage, as the solution uses broadband to connect communications and can be used on mobile phones, laptops/desktops and two-way radios. The clear benefit here is that if there’s a theft or security issue at the warehouse, during transit or after delivery, supervisors can be made aware in real time.

Tracking and traceability

GPS and location tracking are staples of many two-way radios. With GPS tracking, supervisors can instantly locate radio users and when combined with Bluetooth beacons (such as the kind we provide at Kestrel Communications) or TRBOnet, internal and external tracking of radio users is incredibly accurate.

This kind of functionality is crucial as it allows supervisors to monitor and trace the movements of users and those collecting and delivering medicines from a dispatch computer. For example, a worker might be in a restricted area of the warehouse or a driver might be taking an unauthorised route or not delivering routine updates. This kind of visibility helps not only to identify theft when and where it happens, it also discourages employees from stealing, too.

Lastly, supervisors have a complete record of collection, pick-up and transit when it comes to the medicines, and this can be shown to authorities in the instance of an audit.

Incident response

If a theft is occurring – either in a warehouse or in transit – workers need a way to report the incident without raising suspicion.

Two-way radios can be configured to send out a silent alarm; a notification that’s sent to a supervisor and the police. This, combined with GPS tracking will enable the police to quickly intercept or pursue thieves.

Finally, with voice dispatch via TRBOnet supervisors can receive and place calls directly from a computer, so if a theft is underway and they receive a call, they can forward that call to the police in real time.


How can Kestrel Communications help?

With drug theft showing no signs of slowing down, it’s crucial that pharma organisations have communication solutions in place to identify thefts and mitigate them.

As a specialist in the sale, service and rent of two-way radio systems and communication solutions, we can help you to find an option suitable for your pharma operation.

Also, if you require a complex system that integrates with your existing communication solutions, we can help there, too.

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