Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Illegal Drugs Shipments Costs Giant Freight Forwarder $40 Million

Steps Taken to Stem the Flow of Counterfeit Medicines
Shipping News Feature

US – Freight forwarder and logistics giant United Parcel Service (UPS) has entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, in which the company has agreed to forfeit $40 million in payments it has received from illicit online pharmacies and has already taken steps to implement a compliance programme designed to ensure that illegal online pharmacies will not be able to use UPS’s services to distribute drugs or counterfeit pharmaceuticals. US Attorney Melinda Haag commented:

“We are pleased with the steps UPS has taken to stop the use of its shipping services by illegal online pharmacies. Good corporate citizens like UPS play an important role in halting the flow of illegal drugs that degrade our nation’s communities. We are hopeful that the leadership displayed by UPS through this compliance programme will set the standard for the parcel delivery industry and will materially assist the federal government in its battle against illegal Internet pharmacies.”

From 2003 through to 2010, UPS was on notice after information was received via some of its employees, that Internet pharmacies were using its services to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs without valid prescriptions in violation of the law. Internet pharmacies operate illegally when they distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs that are not supported by valid prescriptions. A prescription based solely on a customer’s completion of an online questionnaire is not a valid reason for supplying drugs, legal or otherwise.

Despite being on notice that this activity was occurring, UPS did not implement procedures to close the shipping accounts of Internet pharmacies. John Roth, Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations said:

“The results of this investigation will prompt a significant transformation of illicit internet pharmacy shipping and distribution practices, limiting the chances of potentially unapproved, counterfeit or otherwise unsafe prescription medications from reaching US consumers. The FDA is hopeful that the positive actions taken by UPS in this case will send a message to other shipping firms to put public health and safety above profits.”

FedEx was another company involved in the investigation into the illegal online services but neither it, nor UPS has been formally charged despite federal attention. A spokesman for FedEx stated that the company had been unable to obtain a list from the authorities stating the online companies under investigation making it difficult to ensure compliance.

Evidence from both the logistics groups was used against thee men jailed last month after being found guilty of offences revealed during the investigation last year and similarly Google received a half a billion dollar penalty in 2012 for profits the company made from advertising the illegal sites.