FedEx vows to fight charges stemming from probe of online prescription drug sales
Nov 16, 2012 (Menafn - The Commercial Appeal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --FedEx Corp. is fighting back against claims it's not doing enough to support a government crackdown on illegal online sales of prescription painkillers.
The Wall Street Journal, in its online edition Thursday, said FedEx has been informed it could face criminal charges stemming from a lengthy Drug Enforcement Administration probe of whether FedEx and its rival United Parcel Service aided and abetted the growth of illegal online drug sales.
The newspaper said UPS is in talks with the Justice Department, but FedEx has vowed to defend itself against any charges that might arise.
"Settlement is not an option when there is no illegal activity in this investigation," FedEx spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald told The Commercial Appeal. "We do not ship pharmaceuticals illegally, period."
The company, noting that the U.S. Postal Service also has been used by online pharmacies suspected of engaging in illegal activity, said the problem calls for an industrywide solution.
The Justice probe came to light in a July filing by FedEx with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "We do not believe that we have engaged in any illegal activities and will vigorously defend ourselves in any action that may result from the investigation," the company said.
Fitzgerald said, "The Drug Enforcement Administration has a list of online pharmacies engaging in illegal activity, and they won't provide it to us. We want to assist in coming up with a solution to this problem, and they don't seem to be interested in coming up with a real solution."
UPS said in an SEC filing it was cooperating with a DEA investigation involving the "transportation of packages on behalf of online pharmacies that may have operated illegally."
UPS said it was exploring a settlement that would involve upgrading its compliance program and possibly paying a fine. A company spokesman told the Journal, "We won't have any further comment until the matter is closed."
The U.S. attorney's office in Northern California, which is handling both cases, declined to comment, as did the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department in Washington, the Journal reported.
Fitzgerald said FedEx considers it a matter of principal. "The revenue is small but the potential effect on our customers and the privacy of our customers is significant."
Action against shipping companies could also deter home deliveries of medications, a significant factor in driving down health care costs, he said.
"We hope that the Department of Justice will reconsider its approach to this important issue and work with FedEx and our industry to quickly design and implement a 'No Fly List' for online pharmacies," Fitzgerald said.
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