The US Attorney for Southern District of New York (SDNY) announced yesterday that it had reached a civil settlement with Third Avenue Pharmacy & Surgicals Inc. and its owner for $250,000 resolvingcharges that “the pharmacy filled prescriptions obtained through the Internet outside the course of a legitimate physician-patient relationship.” Specifically, the complaint, filed simulataneously with the settlement, alleged that
“Third Avenue Pharmacy, under the direction of Ira Karp, filled at least 6,298 invalid prescriptions” from November 2005 to June 2006 “received from approximately 70 different websites selling controlled substances to members of the public without valid prescriptions.” The websites “employed a small number of physicians who were paid to authorize prescriptions on demand for various appetite supressants and sleeping pills — all of which were Schedule III and Schedule IV controlled substances — without any medical examination of the customers seeking the prescriptions.”
One might ask, how is the pharmacy supposed to know that the doctors were not performing physical examinations? In this case, the complaint cited evidence that the prescriptions contained the address of both the physician authorizing the prescription and the customer requesting the prescription, which presumably did not geographically match up. Although many pharmacies will fill prescriptions authorized by doctors when a customer was, for example, on vacation, I imagine the sheer volume of prescriptions in which this occurred in this case is what tipped the government off.
Nonetheless, it looks like Third Avenue Pharmacy got off fairly easy with only a civil penalty, given the substantial rise in internet pharmacy prosecutions across the county.
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