FedEx Indicted for Role in Illegal Online Pharmacy Shipments

Eileen Oldfield, Associate Editor
Published Online: Thursday, July 31, 2014
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The DEA alleges that the shipping company knowingly delivered controlled substances from illegitimate online pharmacies.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted FedEx Corporation, FedEx Express Inc, and FedEx Corporate Services Inc on July 17, 2014, for its role in distributing controlled substances and prescription drugs for illegal Internet pharmacies, a release from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Public Affairs office said.
 
The indictment charges FedEx with conspiring with 2 separate but related Internet pharmacy organizations, the Chhabra-Smoley Organization, and Superior Drugs, a press release from the DEA states. The charges allege that FedEx knowingly conspired to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs to customers with no medical need, and who possessed invalid prescriptions.
 
The indictment further alleges that FedEx knowingly delivered the substances to dealers and addicts, despite notifications from the DEA, FDA, and members of Congress.
 
“Illegal Internet pharmacies rely on illicit Internet shipping and distribution practices,” said Philip J. Walsky, acting director of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. “Without intermediaries, the online pharmacies that sell counterfeit and other illegal drugs are limited in the harm they can do to consumers. The FDA is hopeful that today’s action will continue to reinforce the message that the public’s health takes priority over a company’s profits.”
 
FedEx officials maintained the company’s innocence in a July 17, 2014, press release.
 
“FedEx is innocent of the charges brought today by the Department of Justice,” Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president marketing and communications, said in the press release. “We will plead not guilty. We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees.”
 
The release referenced the company’s history of cooperation with various law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the DEA, as well as state and local law enforcement teams.
 
FedEx’s efforts with law enforcement include assisting the DEA in online pharmacy investigations. The company repeatedly requested a list of rogue online pharmacies, with the intent of ceasing shipments from those companies, the release continues. The government allegedly declined to provide the list, the release maintains.

According to FedEx, the charges compromise consumer privacy, which FedEx said is essential to its business model.
 
“We want to be clear what’s at stake here: the government is suggesting that FedEx assume criminal responsibility for the legality of the contents of the millions of packages that we pick up and deliver every day,” Fitzgerald said. “We are a transportation company—we are not law enforcement. We have no interest in violating the privacy of our customers. We continue to stand ready and willing to support and assist law enforcement. We cannot, however, do the job of law enforcement ourselves.”


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