By Alan Robertson
MORE than a thousand packages of controlled and prescription drugs have been lost or stolen across Scotland in the last two years.
The medication, worth thousands of pounds, disappeared from premises such as hospitals and supermarkets.
At least 1,350 instances of stolen or lost drugs were recorded north of the Border between 2009 and 2010.
Three packages of one drug that went missing were worth thousands of pounds alone.
And the figures – released following a Freedom of Information request to all health boards and police forces across the country – paint a bleak picture of poor recovery rates.
One force failed to retrieve a single item lost in the last two years.
Police insist the likelihood of recovering missing medication is
Official figures reveal Tayside police recorded a 10. 1% rise in the number of drugs stolen or lost between 2009 and last year with the disappearance of more than 600 items.
Almost 300 items – prescribed for conditions ranging from diabetes to epilepsy – were reported stolen with fewer than one in 10 recovered.
Over the same period, Grampian police recorded 478 incidents of missing drugs.
Among the 269 cases of lost items in the past two years were three packets of Actonel tablets – used in the treatment of osteoporosis – priced at an astonishing 2,000.
Amazingly, not one misplaced item has been found.
Scotland’s second-biggest force, Lothian and Borders, saw a marked improvement with the number of missing drugs falling by 22%.
However, recovery rates were once again disappointing. Only 8 of the 75 incidents of loss reported led to successful retrieval, while fewer than one in ten of stolen items were recovered.
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh was among the victims of thefts, with a local Somerfield supermarket also reporting 217 worth of stolen off-the-shelf flu remedies.
The number of reported incidents involving NHS Highland jumped from 28 to 37, while NHS Fife also registered a rise from 21 to 27.
NHS Grampian saw the largest increase from 3 to 15 with no items in the last two years recovered.
NHS Western Isles recorded a single loss of temazipam in the same period, though NHS Dumfries and Galloway went one better in reporting no incidents for 2009-10.
A spokeswoman for Grampian Police said:
“It is important to stress that these figures refer only to prescribed medication and not illegal drugs. The theft of prescribed medication is, like all thefts, thoroughly investigated by Grampian Police.
“The fact that such medications are stolen implies that the individual responsible intends to use or sell these drugs, so the likelihood of recovering these is slim. “
A spokesman for Tayside Police said:
“‘Where any property is reported as lost or stolen, Tayside Police will make the appropriate enquiries according to any information or intelligence it receives.
“When property, including prescription drugs, are handed in to Tayside Police as found property, thorough checks are carried out to match them with loss reports and, where appropriate, stolen property reports. “
A police spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders said:
“Lothian and Borders Police would urge anyone in possession of prescription drugs to take extreme care of their storage and subsequent disposal.
“Any medication could prove highly dangerous or cause someone serious medical problems unless taken as prescribed. “
The number of incidents is certain to be much higher once Scotland’s biggest force, Strathclyde Police – who failed to offer statistics – is taken into account.