Time-delay safes across BC to reduce pharmacy robberies

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On September 15, 2015 th College announced DrugSafeBC, a new program that mandates enhanced security for all community pharmacies in BC.

VANCOUVER – Today, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia announced DrugSafeBC, a new program that mandates enhanced security requirements for all community pharmacies across the province.

College Board Chair Anar Dossa RPh, and Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Adam Palmer addressed the media at a Pharmasave in Vancouver. “The College of Pharmacists of BC works to protect public safety and our announcement today shows our commitment to this responsibility,” said Dossa.

The College of Pharmacists of BC administers the Health Professions Act and protects public health by regulating pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and licensing the pharmacies where they practice. It is responsible for making sure every pharmacist and pharmacy technician in BC is fully qualified and able to provide the public with safe and ethical care. DrugSafeBC sets a precedent, making British Columbia the first jurisdiction in Canada to mandate security requirements for community pharmacies.

Pharmacy robberies in British Columbia have increased dramatically over the past seven years, accompanied by increasing levels of violence. By July 2014, the number of pharmacy robberies and break-ins had already surpassed the total number of incidents in all of 2013. To address the rise in pharmacy robberies, DrugSafeBC requires all community pharmacies to store narcotic drugs in a time-delay safe and post standard signage at all external entrances.

There is proven value of using time-delay safes as a deterrent to pharmacy robbery. Walgreens, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the US, successfully introduced a similar program in 2009 and had a 76 per cent reduction in pharmacy robbery rates across 1400 stores. Canadian supermarket chain Safeway also uses time-delay safes within their pharmacies and have not reported a single pharmacy robbery since their implementation. 

With a zero-tolerance stance on pharmacy robberies, the College of Pharmacists of BC is promoting best practices to safeguard the safety and well-being of all pharmacy professionals, patients, and the public.



  • British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in Canada to establish security requirements for community pharmacies;
  • Over 2012-13 there was a 200% increase in pharmacy robberies in the Lower Mainland;
  • Weapons are used in 92% of pharmacy robberies in BC;
  • The average pharmacy robbery takes less than 2 minutes, with some under 35 seconds;
  • Six months after introducing time-delay safes in 2009, Walgreens pharmacy robberies in Washington State dropped from 24 to 3. 

For further information contact: 

Mykle Ludvigsen  
Director of Public Engagement and Accountability 
College of Pharmacists of BC


Sep 15, 2015