How to spot and handle fake Rxs

August 6, 2007

The author, a community pharmacist, shares his experience on how to spot fake prescriptions

Look for patterns that the forgery artist may use, like showing up consistently at the pharmacy on the same day of the week. I once encountered a man who presented a prescription for Darvocet N 100 (acetaminophen/propoxyphene napsylate, Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals) to me on three consecutive Sunday mornings. In each case, I asked him for his address. By the third time, I recognized the man and remembered that he had come twice before. I dug out the hard copies of each prescription and noticed that the man had given me three different house numbers on the same street!

In another case, I looked at the con artist and asked, "Do you want to leave the store quietly, or do you want me to get the police involved?" The result was the same. Another tactic if your store has an internal public address system is to go on and state, "In-store security, please report to the pharmacy." The impostor will disappear if he is guilty.

There are other techniques you can use to fend off charlatans. If the prescription is suspicious looking, you can say that you're "out of stock," or you have to call the doctor to substantiate the order. Other ploys I have utilized in the past have been looking at the prescription and saying aloud, "This is not the doctor's writing" or "It looks like a third-grader wrote this" or "There is nothing 'p.r.n.' about OxyContin," all within earshot of the forgery artisans. In all cases where they feel incriminated, they disappear. Never has a scammer debated with me when I called his bluff.

The most daring strategy I ever used was when I came face-to-face with a person who had succeeded in fraudulently getting several prescriptions for OxyContin filled. I had a feeling he would be making an appearance on a given day. So I alerted the local police, who sent a plainclothes detective to my store posing as a shopper. The swindler came into my store with the phony script. I alerted everyone in the pharmacy to conduct business as usual. Once the cashier rang up the sale at the register, I gave the signal to the undercover officer, who made the arrest with the evidence in his hand.