Prison plans to better track prescription drugs

DOC Central Pharmacy dispensed drugs

January 19, 2010 9:24:17 PM PST
On Tuesday, North Carolina lawmakers said they wanted to know more about an ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation that revealed correction officials had no idea how much prison pills were going to waste.The state auditor said two weeks ago that the prisons' pharmacy program cannot say how much money in pills is lost or thrown away annually.

After photos surfaced in 2008 of prison pills dumped at the Wake County landfill, the Department of Correction told ABC11 Eyewitness News they had no idea how much was getting trashed.

Then last month, a state audit said the pill program needed serious oversight.

Prison officials responded in part saying tighter inventory control would cost a lot of money.

But in front of lawmakers who control the prison budget, prison officials said big changes are coming.

"The bottom line here is to always be a good steward of the public funds," Secretary of Correction Alvin Keller said.

The prisons' $25 million pharmacy program has no system to clearly keep track of prescription pills which are lost, thrown out or maybe stolen.

"The policies and procedures are not in place to stop that kind of behavior," State Auditor Beth Wood said. "If it happens, there's nothing there to catch it."

Wood's report never accused any prison pharmacy techs of stealing.

"We have absolutely no evidence or suggestion of that," Keller said. "But we still want to improve the system."

On Tuesday, prison officials said new rules, new computer software and new robotic pill dispensers will be in place by late spring.

They say no drugs go to the dump anymore and they hope to know where all prison pills go very soon.

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