United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA) with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California under which it will forfeit $40 million to the government for shipping fees it received from unlawful internet pharmacies, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced. UPS also will implement a compliance program to prevent the use of its services to ship drugs illegally.
The law requires pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs, including controlled substances, only upon presentation of a valid prescription. A customer’s completion of an online questionnaire does not substitute for a prescription from a licensed practitioner. Between 2003 and 2010, UPS employees knew that certain customers were shipping controlled substances and prescription drugs in violation of the law, but the company made no effort to close the accounts of internet pharmacies.
The investigation that led to the NPA was a cooperative effort involving the U.S. Attorney’s Health Care Fraud Task Force, the Financial Investigative Team of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration’s Criminal Investigations unit, and the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. The North Carolina Board of Pharmacy also provided substantial assistance.