What do retail, pharmacies, and cannabis have in common? A lot, according to Mark Stinde, Kevin O’Brien, and Matt Murphy of The Integritus Group, a company they formed to aid in loss prevention and compliance services in all three industries.
Before creating Integritus in August, O’Brien, vice president of business development, and Stinde, senior vice president of operations, both had lengthy careers in retail loss prevention, and Principal Matt Murphy worked as the chief of pharmaceutical operations for the DEA before founding the Pharma Compliance Group and providing compliance services for Khiron Life Sciences, a medical cannabis company.
O’Brien’s loss prevention company, LP Innovations (LPI), was working with a supermarket chain with a pharmacy that was fined by the DEA due to compliance issues when they realized that, based on the loss prevention services that LPI offered and the compliance and regulatory services that PCG offered, there was an opportunity to have one company offer parallel services and expertise to clients.
“Based on our experiences and the need for compliance and loss prevention services, we decided we would put the three [retail, pharmacies, and cannabis] together and support them all through this new company,” O’Brien said. “We provide a nationwide network of professionals that are either LP professionals trained and certified to do audits and investigations, or former DEA agents who are able to support the pharmacy and cannabis industries.”
Now the Pharma Compliance Group (PCG), C1 Compliance, and Retail Integrity Solutions all operate as The Integritus Group, each serving their respective industries.
Retail Integrity Solutions provides a holistic approach to total retail loss through either a complete outsource solution or a co-source model to support existing departments. Its solutions include compliance/audit programs, investigative support, consulting and risk assessments, exception-based reporting support, case management, background checks, and liaison services.
PCG is a full-service company committed to assisting pharma companies in complying with state and federal regulations, avoiding costly fines, legal difficulties, and damage to reputation through: background screening, compliance inspections, physical security evaluations, program development, compliance auditing, remote video monitoring services, and online DEA compliance training.
C1 provides regulatory compliance for the cannabis and hemp industry, offering services such as compliance audits, application writing, due diligence investigations, physical security inspections, dispensary and clinic surveillance, anti-counterfeiting, background investigations, and interactive monitoring.
The need for these services in all three industries has never been greater. Retail has been experiencing increased crime and theft, pharmacies have more regulations to comply with than ever, and new cannabis companies are popping up every day, looking for help navigating the complex rules surrounding dispensing and selling cannabis in different states.
“Right now, top-of-mind for most retailers is the increase in theft activity—really brazen theft activity in stores—and the increase in violence as it relates to not just theft but parking lot safety, safety in stores, the concerns around all of the gun violence, etc.,” Stinde said.
“The services we offer are becoming more important because the drug distributors are recently in the process of settling opioid litigation,” Murphy added. “The litigation was very similar to the tobacco litigation years ago, so it makes our services that much more important, because the industry is going to be held to a higher standard now, and they’re going to need our expertise to stay in compliance . . . The cannabis compliance is a bit of a niche thing right now.”
The great thing about what Integritus does, Murphy explained, is that company isn’t just a one trick pony. Integritus can provide LP services in a grocery store, and if there’s a pharmacy, it can also assist with DEA compliance there. And for cannabis, Integritus can provide both LP services and regulatory compliance.
“I like to think we cover all the bases with the different types of services we offer, and the expertise and experiences of our team,” Murphy said. “Of course we’re in our early stages as a combined company, but we have a unique offering that covers a lot of ground. We can do a lot of different things.”
And don’t worry—they aren’t out to replace LP teams. Rather, they’re here to provide additional help during a time when crime is high and talent pools are low. For example, they were recently engaged by a large convenience store that needed 400 audits done over a short period of time that they didn’t have the bandwidth for. The Integritus Group was able to setup the project and commence the work in just two weeks.
“Mark and I are very sensitive to how the LP practitioner looks at things because we both came from being a practitioner to a corporate lead in LP,” O’Brien said. “There were times when we could have used support from somebody when we didn’t have the bandwidth, which is why we’re providing that. But we also provide the complete outsource, and we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that there was a need for that, because some businesses didn’t have the cost structure to support entire LP teams.”
Learn more at www.theintegritusgroup.com.