FedEx Corp. is facing charges that it delivered prescription painkillers and other controlled substances for illegal Internet pharmacies.
The charges include 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and misbranded drugs and drug trafficking. Prosecutors claim FedEx delivered drugs to Internet pharmacies that supplied pills to customers who filled out online questionnaires without undergoing doctors’ examinations, in violation of federal and state drug laws.
According to the indictment, FedEx knew as early as 2004 that it was delivering drugs to dealers and addicts:
FedEx’s couriers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia expressed safety concerns that were circulated to FedEx Senior management, including that FedEx trucks were stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding packages of pills, that the delivery address was a parking lot, school, or vacant home where several car loads of people were waiting for the FedEx driver to arrive with their drugs, that customers were jumping on the FedEx trucks and demanding online pharmacy packages, and that FedEx drivers were threatened if they insisted on delivering packages to the addresses instead of giving the packages to customers who demanded them. In response to these concerns, FedEx adopted a procedure whereby Internet pharmacy packages from problematic shippers were held for pick up at specific stations, rather than delivered to the recipient’s address.
FedEx, for its part, says it is innocent of the charges and plans to plead not guilty.
Federal prosecutors have previously cracked down on companies for contributing to illegal prescription drug sales. Last year, Walgreens agreed to shell out $80 million to settle allegations that it allowed oxycodone and other controlled drugs to be diverted for black market sales from its Jupiter, Fla., distribution center. Also last year, UPS Inc. agreed to forfeit $40 million in payments it received from illicit online pharmacies under a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.