Department of Justice Files Lawsuit To Close Pharmacy Storefront Chain Rx Depot
The Department of Justice yesterday filed a lawsuit that seeks an injunction to close Oklahoma-based Rx Depot and partner Rx of Canada, which help U.S. consumers purchase prescription drugs from Canada, USA Today reports. The lawsuit alleges that the practice "poses significant risks to the public health" (Appleby, USA Today, 9/12). On Tuesday, the DOJ sent a letter to Rx Depot, which has 85 storefront pharmacies in 26 states, to warn the company that importation of U.S.-manufactured and foreign, unapproved prescription drugs into the United States from Canada violates federal law (Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 9/10). DOJ officials also said in the letter that the department would file suit against Rx Depot in the event that the company did not cease operations by yesterday (Harris, New York Times, 9/10). The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma, alleges that the prescription drugs sent to Rx Depot customers do not have the same assurance of safety as those approved for sale in the United States. In the case, the DOJ will have to show that the continued operations of Rx Depot would cause "irreparable harm" and is not in the public interest (USA Today, 9/12). However, storefront pharmacy chains such as Rx Depot maintain that they do not violate the law because they only fax or mail prescriptions to Canada; Canadian physicians rewrite the prescriptions, and Canadian pharmacies send the medications directly to customers and pay commissions to storefront pharmacies. Carl Moore, president of Rx Depot, said that the company will fight the lawsuit and will continue with plans to open 5,000 new storefront pharmacies in the next year and a half. "We think we're right. This is the answer for senior citizens who need relief to get medications," Moore said (Cohen, Chicago Tribune, 9/12). He added, "Our stores will stay open until a court says we can't." The court may rule on the lawsuit in the next few days or weeks (USA Today, 9/12).
In related news, NPR's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday" today will include an interview with FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan about prescription drug, food and medical device safety and his plans for the agency (Flatow, "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday," NPR, 9/12). The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer after 6 p.m. ET.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.