Driven by an increase in prescription drug abuse, pharmacy robberies have surged in recent years.
In just the past two weeks, at least six Tampa Bay area drug stores have been robbed. In all those hold-ups, the robbers demanded drugs – in most cases oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin.
Walgreens spokeswoman Carol Hively said the company pulled OxyContin from some stores out of concern for the safety of customers and employees. Those pharmacies have signs indicating the drug has been pulled, she said.
Pharmacists will direct customers to other stores that still carry the drug. It is unclear how many stores will sell the drug.
Hively said it's rare for Walgreens to pull a drug from stores. She said OxyContin was pulled because it's the "drug of choice" for many pharmacy robbers.
Walgreens pulled OxyContin from some Boston-area stores several years ago and also has pulled the drug from some Nashville stores after robberies increased, Hively said. It's usually a temporary move and ends after arrests are made.
"This is an extreme decision because we don't like to restrict access of OxyContin to legitimate customers," Hively said.