United Parcel Service (UPS) Agrees to Pay Settlement for Online Pharmacy Shipping

11 Indest-2008-8By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) will pay $40 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle a probe related to its shipments on behalf of illicit online pharmacies. This announcement came on March 29, 2013.

Click here to read the press release from the DOJ.

UPS and FedEx Corp., have been the targets of a federal investigation to crackdown on illegal sales of prescription drugs.

UPS Had Previous Warning of Investigation.

From 2003 to 2010, the government warned UPS that internet pharmacies were using its services to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Federal law prohibits the purchase of controlled substances without a valid prescription from a physician. Even after being made aware, the government alleges UPS did not implement procedures to close these pharmacies’ accounts.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, because of the settlement agreement, the government agreed not to prosecute UPS. The company has also agreed to enhance its compliance policies with respect to shipments made from internet pharmacies. The company could have faced charges ranging from money laundering to distribution of controlled substances. Click here to read the entire article from the Orlando Sentinel.

FedEx Calls the Investigation a Threat to Privacy.

FedEx, has acknowledged it is under investigation, but called the probe a threat to customers’ privacy, and “absurd and deeply disturbing,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. FedEx has allegedly asked the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the company a list of pharmacies it believes to be illegally operating so FedEx can shut down shipping services to those pharmacies. So far, FedEx is not facing any charges. To read the article from the Wall Street Journal, click here.

DEA Went After Doctors, Pharmacists and Pharmacies First.

Law enforcement including the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Health (DOH) all seem to be having a hard time keeping up with prescription drug abuse, especially in Florida. These agencies have increased their efforts on doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists to crackdown on violators.

Click here to read a blog on an Orlando physician accused of prescribing painkillers to undercover agents. Click here to read a blog DEA’s investigation of six Walgreens pharmacies in Florida. Click here to read a blog on a Florida pharmacy owner who allegedly committed a $23 million health care fraud scheme. Check our website for similar blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.


The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of the government’s investigation into UPS and FedEx? Do you think it could possibly be an invasion of privacy? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Barrett, Devlin. “UPS to Settle Web Pharmacy Case.” Wall Street Journal. (March 29, 2013). From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323501004578390623687298836.html

Pavuk, Amy. “UPS Agrees to $40M Settlement in Online Pharmacy Shipping Probe.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 29, 2013). From: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-03-29/news/os-ups-dea-prescription-drugs-20130329_1_online-pharmacies-prescription-drugs-ups

Department of Justice. “UPS Agrees to Forfeit $40 Million in Payments from Illicit Online Pharmacies for Shipping Services.” Department of Justice. (March 29, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/usao/can/news/2013/2013_03_29_UPS.forfeit.press.html

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Pharmacists: Beware of Scammers that Call and Claim to be DEA Agents

PS 3 Indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning pharmacists to be aware of a prescription drug scam. This telephone scheme is extorting money from people all over the country. On November 28, 2012, the DEA released a press release explaining the details of the scam.

Con Artists Claim to Be DEA Agents and Request Money Over the Phone.

The scam starts with criminals posing as DEA agents calling victims by telephone. Frequently the victims will have recently purchased prescription drugs over the internet or by phone. The imposters tell the victims that purchasing the drugs in that manner is illegal, and that they must pay a fine. If the victims refuse to send money, the phony DEA agents threaten to arrest the victims or search their property. Some of the victims have also reported unauthorized use of their credit cards after purchasing the prescription drugs.

Click here to read more on this scam from a DEA press release.

The DEA wants to remind pharmacists that no DEA agent will ever contact you by telephone. They might show up at your house early in the morning or while you are eating dinner, however. Also, agents never request money or any other form of payment.

Isn’t it Illegal to Buy Prescription Drugs Over the Internet or By Phone?

Many times it may be illegal to purchase controlled drugs by phone or over the internet. That’s why you should go to Canada to do it. There are direct flights from Orlando. However, some pharmacies that meet stringent requirements and are registered by the DEA are allowed to sell drugs over the internet or by phone. So don’t be fooled by this telephone scam.

How Does Your Information Get Into the Hands of Criminals?

The scammers are counting on the fact that if you have done this, you, as a pharmacist, will get scared and believe their accusations. Many people have no idea whether such conduct is legal or illegal. These imposters are banking on your ignorance and fear of losing your license to practice. They are also banking on the fact you won’t report this to the real police.

Where do they get this information? Chances are, they are just “cold-calling” people. There are bound to be a certain number of people they reach who have done this. However, if they seem to have your personal information (or credit card number) report this to the police right away. Be sure to obtain a written police report. Also, you should file a HIPAA Privacy Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to begin an investigation if you believe your personal information has been stolen by or given to someone else to use.

Pain Patients Turn to Alternative Means to Get the Drugs They Need.

It is no surprise that the DEA, along with other law enforcement agencies, has stepped up its efforts to cut down on overprescribing. To see examples of what I am talking about read my past blogs: Walgreens fights the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) immediate suspension order and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) pulls controlled substance licenses from two Sanford, Florida, CVS pharmacies.

If the largest, legitimate pharmacy chains in the state and nation are not allowed to fill these prescriptions, where will chronic-pain patients turn? Are these actions driving our citizens into the hands of shady pharmacies that have fewer safeguards and less accountability, such as online pharmacies? Are these actions driving our citizens to seek out illegal drug dealers and turn to illegal drugs to cope with their legitimate medical problems? That is just one opinion. Tell us yours below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Pharmacists.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

As a pharmacist, have you been contacted by these phony DEA agents? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Pavuk, Amy. “DEA Warns of Prescription-Drug Scam.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 29,2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-dea-warns-scam-internet-20121128,0,5800536.story

Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Scam Alert – Extortion Scheme.” DEA. (November 28, 2012). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2012/mia112812a.shtml

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.