Online Pharmacies have been a controversial issue for decades now. The recent charges against a Pharmacy owner and a doctor regarding an illegal Internet “scam” they ran to make millions by distributing medications to patients without valid prescriptions again brings this topic to national attention. The fact that the “scam” went on for almost 4 years is leading many legislators and consumers to voice their concerns for both better regulations and monitoring regarding Internet Pharmacies.
The basis of the indictment is that patients received prescription drugs through RX Limited and other websites by simply filling out online medical forms and then hitting the “submit” button on a website! Then pay and check out and the prescriptions arrive. Utilizing both his Anaconda Pharmacy and his MEDS 2 GO Pharmacy businesses, Philip E. Michael II, of Alum Creek, West Virginia, filled and shipped Rx drug orders to patients throughout the United States without valid prescriptions. After patients selected desired drugs and submitted an online medical questionnaire, the website would send it to doctors such as Eutan Laing, of Piscataway, New Jersey, who has also been charged. The drugs would then be dispensed and shipped without having an adequate patient history, performing any patient exams, nor using any appropriate diagnostic or laboratory testing. Then, the invalid prescription would be filled by MEDS 2 Go or Aracoma and shipped to customers.
According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), 97% of almost 11,00 online pharmacies reviewed by the board are operating in conflict with pharmacy laws and practice standards. Violations have included stolen personal and financial information, virus-laden spam e-mails and even online pharmacies selling pills that contain drywall or rat poison. Some of the issues surrounding Internet pharmacies were highlighted by a case in 2012 involving a couple of Canadian businessmen who sold counterfeit Avastin, a cancer drug developed by Roche Holding AG, to Americans patients. Some of these counterfeit medications even showed up in medical clinics. In 2014, FedEx received an indictment from a federal grand jury for drug trafficking charges after delivering drugs for nearly a decade from Internet Pharmacies operating illegally. As recently as early March, there was a $2 million settlement paid by one Missouri pharmacist who distributed painkillers like Fioricet online to patients he had never seen for an in-person consultation.
In this particular case. Michael and Laing have been charged with a list of criminal charges that is almost too long to even comprehend:
– Internet pharmacy conspiracy to distribute misbranded drugs.
– Distributing misbranded drugs
– Mail fraud conspiracy
– Wire fraud conspiracy
– Health care fraud
– Engaging in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs
– Defrauding a health care benefit program
If you plan to open an Internet Pharmacy or currently operate an Online Pharmacy, the time to make sure that you are doing everything right and legally is now! The security requirements alone that are required are vastly complex and complicated and even without intentionally meaning to, violations such as aggravated identity theft have been filed against several Internet Pharmacies.
As always, please contact us here at HCC if you have questions regarding establishing or running an Internet Pharmacy online. With over 27 years in the Pharmacy Consulting business, HCC can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice. We urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting services can help. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all areas of your business. Call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.