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article imageFedEx accused of shipping illegal prescription drugs

By Tim Sandle     Jun 14, 2016 in Crime
Washington - The U.S. government has accused global distributor FedEx of knuckling shipping company illegal prescription drugs. The case has begun in a federal court.
The U.S. government has accused FedEx of shipping and delivering medications such as Ambien to dealers and addicts. The government also claims that some users died as a result of taking the medications.
FedEx has denied the charges. FedEx acknowledges that medications could well have been distributed; the key issue is whether or not the distributor was aware of what was being transported. FedEx indicates it only shipped what the company considered to be legal drugs from licensed pharmacies.
Coming to a federal court has taken two years, with no indication of a settlement. The U.S. government took similar action against UPS Inc. and settled on a $40 million payment from FedEx’s main rival in 2013. The potential damages that the government could receive, should its claims be upheld by the court, are up to $1.6 billion
The action against FedEx forms part of the U.S. government’s campaign against illegal Internet pharmacies and the shipping of drugs to customers who do not have prescriptions. The main charges allege that in the year 2000, the distributor agreed to work with two Internet pharmacies to ship drugs to customers who did not have prescriptions. This included sleep aids, painkillers, and sedatives. The government also alleges, via the U.S. Attorney's Office, that some of these shipments went to know dealers.
The government further states that it notified FedEx of these activities in 2004, yet the company continued with the business practices. FedEx counters that it has only done business with pharmacies licensed by state boards of pharmacy and registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Commenting on the legal action, Professor Brandon Garrett, who teaches law at Virginia University, told Pharmaceutical Processing magazine: "It's incredibly rare for there to be any trial in the prosecution of a corporation.”
He added: “Many large corporations like Fedex have received deferred or non-prosecution deals where they avoid an indictment all together."
The case is likely to have future impact on on-line pharmacies and the delivery methods used. FiercePharma (@FiercePharma), for instance, tweeted: "Trial begins in DOJ case against FedEx for shipping illegal Rx drugs."
The trial has begun and it is scheduled to run into August 2016. It is being heard by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer. In the opening of the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann said during his opening statement: "They faced a choice, and the choice is to stop or go, and time and time again, they went.”
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