Fraud the Suspected Motive in Greene RX Case
Posted February 20, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — When you get a prescription filled, most of us don't think about where the bottles and paperwork are going. But we do think our personal information is confidential. That's not always the case.
Last June, WRAL first reported that people were stealing prescription waste from dumpsters. Police found drug bottles and patient records in Wilson. More pharmaceutical trash turned up in Wake Forest. Friday, even more was found in a remote farmhouse in Greene County.
In Wilson, authorities suspected that the someone was going after drugs. In Wake Forest, it appears that personal information was sought to create fraudulent prescriptions.
The Greene County sheriff believes someone is probably presenting fraudulent prescriptions as a diversion of controlled substances from patients that have been prescribed them themselves.
Even worse, the discarded material contains personal information that opens the door for someone to steal another person's identity. This information includes social security numbers and credit card numbers.
So how can stores keep this stuff out of the wrong hands? Saunders Pharmacy in Wendell watches their waste bottles being put into a dumpster and crushed.
Health Team pharmacist Alicia Underwood says the Winn Dixie where she works has security measures in place, but she's seen a lot of stores that don't.
"Most pharmacies don't even have shredders," Underwood explains. "We don't even have any special incinerators or special places to put pharmacy trash."
Only one pharmacy chain that WRAL spoke with Friday actually locks their dumpsters so no one can get inside them. Many others wouldn't even discuss how they get rid of their trash.