Local pharmacies are changing the way they do business to combat an opioid epidemic threatening employees and customers.
Phoenix police say, on Tuesday night, an armed man tried to rob a Walgreens on Union Hills. Investigators say he demanded oxycodone, and shortly after, a customer in the store shot and killed the suspect.
Scenarios like this have played out at pharmacies across the Valley, including Melrose Pharmacy on Seventh Avenue.
“We had a person come into the store, they had a gun and demanded oxycodone, so we gave it to them,” says owner, Teresa Stickler. “There's been some emotional distress from having a gun in your face and being told to get down on the ground.”
Stickler says the incident happened about three years ago, but admits she’s been robbed more times than she can count.
“The bad people are going to hurt the good people,” says Stickler. “I’m not happy about having to make decisions whether to take oxycodone off the shelf for those people who really do need it.”
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Doing so would cause pharmacies to take a financial hit, but Stickler says safety is a priority. While her shop has surveillance cameras and panic buttons, she says there may come a time where oxycodone is only sold at select pharmacies with heavy-duty security.
“Maybe it’s just not stocked at regular pharmacies in general,” says Stickler. “So, if things continue the way they are, that might be something that needs to be looked at.”
One independent pharmacy told us they stopped carrying opiates after a particularly terrifying robbery years ago. Another pharmacy told us they do not included the word “pharmacy” on their signs outside because they don’t wish to attract unwanted attention. Owners of both pharmacies wished to remain anonymous.
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