On-line pharmacies outside U.S. spawn prosecutions and FedEx is latest target

 Federal authorities charged FedEx with assisting illegal pharmacies by knowingly delivering painkillers and dangerous drugs to customers without prescriptions. The indictment filed in federal court in San Francisco alleges that FedEx Corp. conspired with two related online pharmacies for 10 years ending in 2010.

The Department of Justice  wants FedEx to forfeit $820 million it says the cargo company earned by assisting the illicit pharmacies.  Online pharmacies fill drug orders without requiring a valid prescription from a doctor, which is a law in the United States.

FedEx is accused of shipping powerful sleeping aid Ambien, anti-anxiety medications Valium and Xanax, and other drugs to customers who had no legitimate medical need and lacked valid prescriptions.

FedEx says it didn’t do anything wrong because it doesn’t look inside the packages it delivers, it just delivers.

The Justice Department alleges that federal officials have been telling FedEx since 2004 that it was shipping dangerous drug without a prescription. The indictment also alleges that FedEx couriers in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia warned executives about suspicious drug deliveries.

UPS Inc. a FedEx competitor recently  paid $40 million last year to resolve similar allegations, and the Atlanta-based company said it would “take steps” to block illicit online drug dealers from using its delivery service.

The issue also involves entities which advertise or allow ads for the online pharamcies. In 2011, Google Inc. agreed to pay $500 million to settle allegations by the Justice Department that it profited from ads for illegal online pharmacies in Canada.

Jeff Newman represents whistleblowers.