FTC CLOSES DOWN "FREE Rx MEDICINE" INTERNET SCAM

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Federal TradeCommission (FTC)investigators haveslammed the dooron a Louisville,Ky-based companythat lured lowincomeconsumerswith no insuranceinto spending $199with false claims that they would receive"free prescription medication."

In a complaint alleging fraudulentactivity by MyFreeMedicine.com, theFTC charged that the company targets"low-income consumers who spendmore than $100 a month for medications"and may "qualify to receive freeprescription medicine through one ormore of the many patient assistanceprograms (PAPs) operated by pharmaceuticalcompanies." The company'stelevision and radio ads urge consumerswho are not covered by insuranceto call a toll-free number to findout if they are "eligible" to receive freeprescription medications.

Consumers who responded to the adswere charged $199.95 for a 6-monthenrollment and were provided with PAPapplication forms that must be submittedto the pharmaceutical companies.According to the FTC, many who paidthis fee later learned that they were noteligible to receive their prescriptionmedications for free from a PAP, or thattheir prescriptions were not availablefrom a PAP.

In response to the FTC complaint, a USDistrict Court froze the firm's assets andordered the company to halt its deceptivemarketing practices.

Industry leaders applauded the FTC'saction and condemned the companyfor profiteering at the expense of low incomepatients. "These programs aremeant to help the uninsured, and peoplein need, better afford their prescriptionmedicines," a spokesman for thePharmaceutical Research and Manufacturersof America said. "To chargepeople looking for help abuses the spiritof giving and assistance that drivesthese programs, and it is wrong."

The FTC has published a consumeralert, "No Need to Pay for Information onFree (or Low-Cost) Rx Drugs," that isavailable at the commission's Web site,www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/rxdrugsalrt.pdf.