CVS debuts time-delay safes to prevent pharmacy opioid robberies

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CVS will be using time-delay safes in seven states for opioid prescriptions - including Michigan.

You have to use your imagination we're not able to show you the safes or even provide some particulars just know for some drugs you'll have to wait.

"If someone is coming and seeking drugs that shouldn't get them, either with a prescription and they stand at the counter and they scream at the pharmacist because the pharmacist won't fill the prescription, or with a gun," said Elizabeth Ferguson, deputy general counsel CVS.

That's the scenario, CVS pharmacies hope time delay safes could help prevent.

FOX 2: "Have you had an incident in which an armed robber came in and you saw the effects of the time delay technology?"

"We have had armed robbers come in, who have let without drugs because the safe did not open," Ferguson said.

The basic idea is that all controlled substance narcotics like opioids, are stored in the time delay safes. When a prescription is filled only that scrip is taken out of the safe.

"With this technology he puts a code in and at some point the safe opens over the next whatever, time period -15 minutes or whatever it takes," Ferguson said.

The time varies so the bet is that a would-be armed robber wouldn't be interested in sticking around to steal the drugs they want to get.

FOX 2: "There's still the potential for stolen drugs - just a much smaller quantity?"

"To do an armed robbery for 30 pills it takes an hour to find in the wait bin is not what they're looking for," Ferguson said.

The safes are live at all 318 CVS locations in Michigan right now. What does this mean for you if you have a prescription at CVS for oxycodone or hydrocodone?

"We don't expect this to impact customer service," Ferguson said.

"It's a very important piece, a small piece," said Mallory McMorrow, State Senator 13th District.  "This is a large problem and I don't think we can say we did one thing and move on. We have to tackle it systemically."

CVS first tried time delay safes in Indianapolis and the company reports it saw a 70 percent drop in pharmacy robberies in stores where the safes were set up.

CVS also has safe medication disposal units.