Justice Department Presents Its Case Against Drug Reimporter Rx Depot
The Department of Justice on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma presented its case for a nationwide injunction against Oklahoma-based Rx Depot and partner Rx of Canada, which help U.S. consumers purchase prescription drugs from Canada, the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. DOJ attorneys told U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan that the chain is violating federal drug laws that allow only manufacturers to import medicine into the United States (Kurt, AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/9). Rx Depot, which has 85 storefront pharmacies in 26 states, maintains that it does not violate the law because it only faxes or mails prescriptions to Canada; Canadian physicians rewrite the prescriptions, and Canadian pharmacies send the medications directly to customers and pay commissions to storefront pharmacies (California Healthline, 9/12). DOJ attorney Alan Phelps argued that the prescription drugs Rx Depot sells pose a threat to U.S. public health because the company operates outside the FDA's "closed safety system." Thomas McGinnis, FDA director of pharmacy affairs, testified that since 1999, the "volume of medications coming into the United States has risen dramatically." Three million packages of prescription drugs are expected to enter the country this year, he said. He added that the FDA is concerned because the agency does not monitor how the drugs are made or what patient information is included with them. However, Rx Depot attorney Fred Stoops told Eagan that the case is not about safety but rather about "money and protection." Stoops asked the judge to reject the injunction "so people can maintain their ability to afford drugs." The government rested its case after presenting five FDA witnesses. Rx Depot will present its witnesses Thursday (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/9).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.