DoJ Presents Case Against Canadian Drug Store Fronts

October 10, 2003 ( - The Department of Justice (DoJ) has made its case to a federal judge in its effort to shut down Canadian drug import shops.

The Justice Department alleges thatOklahoma-based Rx Depot and partner Rx of Canada are in violation of federal law that only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to import medicine into the United States. Thus, the DoJ is asking US District Judge Claire Eagan of the US District Court in Oklahoma to grant its request for anationwide injunction against the storefronts, according to an Associated Press report.

On the other side,Rx Depot – which operates 85 storefront pharmacies in 26 states – asserts that it does not violate the law because it only acts as a middleman by faxing or mailing prescriptions to Canada. Once there, Canadian physicians rewrite the prescriptions and Canadian pharmacies send the medications directly to customers and pay commissions to storefront pharmacies, Rx Depot argues.

This is just the latest move by both sides in the growing Canadian drug import market. On the government’s side stands the DoJ and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which argue these operations operate illegally and put lives at risk. To prove these contentions, the FDA has conducted sting operations in Oklahoma (See FDA Tells Canadian Drug Store Fronts To Cease and Desist ) and also Springfield, Massachusetts (See FDA Stings Springfield’s Canadian Drug Supplier ), where the agency says the drugs were either mishandled or incorrect.

Arguing for the right to purchase prescription drugs are the likes of Springfield’s MayorMichael Albano(See Springfield, Mass. Pushes Canadian Drug Order Program ).He says that plans such as the one implemented at the city are safe and a good alternative to higher priced drugs in the US. Further, he argues the plan does not require federal approval because it is voluntary and because individuals, not the city, place the order for drugs.

After hearing both sides, Eagan said she would give both sides until October 31 to submit final findings of fact in the case. Eagan is expected to make her decision by written order soon after that.