CHA News

Scammers Diverting Drug Shipments from Distributors, Pharmacies

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The California State Board of Pharmacy is warning hospitals about a sophisticated fraud scheme to obtain pharmacy account numbers and other sensitive information and unlawfully divert quantities of pharmaceutical goods in transit.   

In some cases, scammers telephoned to request pharmacies’ Drug Enforcement Administration number and account purchasing information for their principal distributor by pretending to represent the state’s Board of Pharmacy or employees. After obtaining that information, the fraudsters then called each distributor — pretending to be the pharmacy — and ordered between $100,000 and $300,000 worth of pharmaceuticals. Common products ordered included Xarelto, Otezla, Eliquis, and a variety of HIV medications.  

After delivery, the scammers posed as the distributors and told the pharmacy  the order was made in error. They then arranged for a courier to pick up the diverted product. 

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition has released a report about this problem: “Fraud Alert: Distributor/Customer Product Ordering Scheme,” Version 2 (updated June 2022). The report discusses methods being used to divert drug shipments and tips for protecting distributors and pharmacies. The Board of Pharmacy urges drug distributors and pharmacists to read the report and learn how to spot fraudulent activity and prevent drug diversion.