Louisiana Pharmacy Board Seeks Shut Down of Canadian Drug Importer

November 10, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Louisiana state Board of Pharmacy is considering criminal charges against NorthCareDrugs.com, a Canadian drug importation storefront.

The pharmacy board is considering the action because it alleges the companyis acting as a pharmacy but lacks the permit required under state law. Overall, the oversight board has sent out 10 similar cease-and-desist orders since September 26. Some went to Internet sellers of Canadian drugs and others to Canada-oriented stores and kiosks, according to an Associated Press report.

On the other side, NorthCareDrugs.com asserts that it does not violate the law because it only acts as a middleman by faxing or mailing prescriptions to Canada and thus is not a pharmacy. Once there, Canadian physicians rewrite the prescriptions and Canadian pharmacies send the medications directly to customers and pay commissions to storefront pharmacies, the storefront argues.

“All we do is forward information to a pharmacy. We have no direct partnership with them,” NorthCareDrugs.com’s marketing director, Stephen Hua told the AP.

However, the pharmacy board does not see a distinction, saying the storefront is a pharmacy; even if does not sell drugs directly but only acts as a referral agent between a patient and a drug-supplier. By accepting prescription information, a store is acting as a pharmacy. The pharmacy board is considering asking the district attorney to file criminal charges or seeking an injunction against the company through civil court.

This comes after a federal judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week issued a preliminary injunction against a chain of 85 stores called RX Depot last week, essentially shutting it down (See DoJ Presents Case Against Canadian Drug Store Fronts ). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had argued the company was violating the law ( See FDA Tells Canadian Drug Store Fronts To Cease and Desist ). RX Depot has said it will appeal.