Theft Down Since $80m Lilly Heist as Industry Shares Intelligence

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

$80m worth of drugs were stolen from a Lilly warehouse in 2010
$80m worth of drugs were stolen from a Lilly warehouse in 2010
Collaboration and intelligence sharing has seen pharmaceutical cargo theft decline heavily since Lilly fell prey to an $80m heist in 2010, says industry expert.

Speaking with, Chuck Forsaith, Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC) said between 2007 and 2009 there was an unusual amount of cargo theft in the pharma industry. However, the industry has since taken action and formed several groups to tackle the problem, including Rx360​ and Forsaith’s own PCSC​.

The problem, he said, was that traditionally this is a “very private industry,”​ and therefore allowed opportunities for theft.  The formation of these groups, however, have allowed companies to collaborate and share intelligence leading to a change of strategy on how products are stored and transported. Such action has seen a decrease in cargo theft to its lowest recorded levels​.

“The average value of theft in 2009 was approximately $4m per instance,”​ Forsaith told us. “Last year this figure stood at $165-70 thousand.”

America's Biggest Burglary

Such opening up and collaboration amongst companies could see an end to a spate of thefts which culminated in the theft of an estimated $80m worth of pharmaceuticals from Eli Lilly’s warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut in 2010.

On Monday it was reported by the Associated Press​ that Amed Villa, from Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to the theft which has been described as the largest pharmaceutical heist in history. However, according to Forsaith

The crime was described as the largest pharmaceutical heist in history but is actually the “largest single event of burglary in the history of the USA” -​ including all commodities – according to Forsaith. Moreover, “the individuals who perpetrated the crime did not know the value”​ of the haul.

Lilly manufactures a wide range of products which were stored at the facility, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, as well as erectile dysfunction drug Cialis and, he said, there was evidence of attempts to get into a secure area of the warehouse.

When asked by this publication, spokesman from Lilly, Ed Sagebiel, was unable to comment on the 2010 theft as the case is currently going through the legal process, nor could he comment on measures taken since the heist “due to security concerns.”

Third Party Security

We asked Forsaith how pharma firms could ensure safety of their products when so many storage and shipping services are done by third parties.

He told us the consortiums work in line with the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) in the US and the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) in Europe and in order “to be a participant you need to do a risk assessment of everyone who touches the product in the supply chain.” 

This includes all third party logistics and transportation firms, with members obliged to visit every site and risk assess every communication lane.

Furthermore, he added, along with manufacturers and retailers, the insurance industry has a presence in the PCSC as they too have an interest in lowering cargo crime. “We work in collaboration with a number of large groups – AIG, Chubb etc – who are active in PCSC and provide intelligence”​ to further aid the reduction in cargo theft.

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