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Justice Department charges FedEx with illegally distributing pharmaceuticals without a prescription

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. — FedEx on Thursday was indicted as a co-conspirator for illegally distributing pharmaceuticals sourced from a pair of rogue online pharmacies. 
 
FedEx denied the charges outright. "FedEx is innocent of the charges brought today by the Department of Justice. We will plead not guilty. We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees," the company stated. "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. 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."
 
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California on Thursday formally charged the FedEx Corp. with conspiring with two separate but related online pharmacy organizations to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs to U.S. consumers without requiring their customers to have a valid prescription, as required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Agents from FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations worked closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which led this investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prevent these organizations from distributing drugs ordered illegally through the internet.
 
According to the indictment, as of July 2004, FedEx employees had identified over 200 accounts that were associated with online pharmacies. By September of 2010, the list had increased to over 600 online pharmacy accounts. According to published reports, FedEx had special accounting procedures in place for these online pharmacy accounts in the event that they were to be shut down and unable to satisfy balances owed to FedEx. 
 
"The credit policy, circulated to FedEx directors on July 6, 2006, and included in the indictment, explained the policy's rationale: 'Many of these companies operate outside federal and state regulations over the sale of controlled drugs. … Drugs purchased from these sites may be diluted or counterfeit. Several sites have been shut down by the government without warning or simply disappeared, leaving large balances owing to FedEx,'" USA Today reported
 
"Illegal internet pharmacies rely on overnight couriers to facilitate the illegal distribution of prescription drugs," the FDA released in a statement. "The FDA is hopeful that today’s actions will continue to reinforce the message that the public’s health takes priority over a company’s profits. The FDA also commends its DEA colleagues for their strong lead in helping protect the public’s health."
 

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Publix and the ACFB launches partnership to get free school supplies to teachers and students in need

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Publix Super Markets and the Atlanta Community Food Bank on Thursday launched a new partnership to get free school supplies to teachers and students in need.
 
The Publix Tools for Back to School campaign will be unveiled in more than 1,000 Publix stores July 24 and will raise funds to donate school supplies across Georgia, including to ACFB's Kids in Need program, just as students and teachers head back to school.
 
The Kids In Need program provides brand new, free school supplies to educators at schools where 80% of the students access the Federal free or reduced meal program. The KIN mission is to provide learning supplies for students whose academic success is threatened by poverty.
 
"It is partnerships like the one we have with Publix that enable the Atlanta Community Food Bank and its programs, like Kids in Need, to help those who need it most," stated Bill Bolling, executive director, Atlanta Community Food Bank. "We know that there are students and teachers and schools all across metro Atlanta that work hard behind the scenes to help fill need gaps in classrooms every school year. Supporting donation drives and programs like Kids in Need plays an enormous and critical role in making sure needs stay met." 
 
The new partnership was unveiled at a July 17 press conference at Kids in Need headquarters. ACFB executive director Bolling, State Superintendent John Barge, and DeKalb County Superintendent Michael Thurmond gave remarks in support of making sure all students have access to the tools and supplies they need for academic success.
 
Publix will offer the Tools for Back to School campaign July 24 to Aug. 13. Customers and associates are encouraged to stop by their neighborhood Publix to donate $5, $7 or $10 which will be used to purchase school supplies.
 
"Our Tools for Back to School program grew out of the need to help students and teachers," said Brenda Reid, Publix media and community relations manager. "Many families do not have the resources to purchase school supplies and, often, teachers spend their own money to buy supplies for their students. That's why this program is so important. It supports families and classroom teachers." 

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Study: Use of milliliters as a dosage measurement unit cuts down on pediatric dosing errors

BY Michael Johnsen

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, use of milliliters as a dosage measurement unit, as opposed to teaspoons and tablespoons, cut down significantly on medication dosing errors when parents administered medicines to their children. 
 
With the use of teaspoons and tablespoons, medication errors were common. As many as 39.4% of parents made an error in measurement of the intended dose; 41.1% made an error in the prescribed dose. Furthermore, 16.7% used a nonstandard instrument. 
 
Compared with parents who used milliliter-only, parents who used teaspoon or tablespoon units had twice the odds of making an error with the intended and prescribed dose.
 
“This study underscores the importance of standardizing dosing instructions, which [the Consumer Healthcare Products Association] has long supported as a way of helping parents to appropriately treat their children’s symptoms with over-the-counter medicines," the association stated in response to the study. “The makers of OTC medicines fully support using mL as the standard unit of measurement on all liquid OTC medicines. In 2009, CHPA expressed this industry commitment by adopting voluntary guidelines that specify mL as the preferred unit of measure. Alternatively, a mL unit can be used together with a ‘teaspoonful’, but manufacturers should avoid use of a ‘teaspoonful’ unit alone. The study affirms that consumers do understand instructions with milliliters."
 

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