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9/12/2003

Justice Department Seeks Injunction Against Rx Depot

Donna Young

The U.S. Department of Justice yesterday filed a complaint for an injunction against Rx Depot, a pharmacy storefront operation based in Tulsa, Okla., that has aided U.S. consumers in obtaining drug products from Canada.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District of the Northern District of Oklahoma at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which warned Rx Depot last March that the company had violated federal regulations by causing prescription drugs to be illegally imported into the United States.

The Justice Department on Tuesday warned Rx Depot that the company had 48 hours to shut down its stores or face a lawsuit.

According to the complaint, an Rx Depot store employee or a customer faxes a prescription, along with company forms containing a customer's medical history and credit card information, to a cooperating pharmacy in Canada.

A Canadian physician rewrites the prescription and the Canadian pharmacy fills the prescription, bills the customer's credit card, and mails the drug product to the U.S. customer.

"The defendants cause the importation of prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, which clearly violates the law and poses significant risks to the public health," the Justice Department declared in its complaint. "Drugs that are imported from foreign countries do not have the same assurance of safety and efficacy as drugs that are regulated by FDA. Because the drugs are not subject to FDA oversight and are not continuously under the custody of a U.S. manufacturer or authorized distributor, their quality is unpredictable."

The Justice Department warned that drugs imported from foreign countries "may be contaminated, counterfeit, or contain erratic amounts of the active ingredient or different excipients," adding that the drugs could have also been subjected to poor storage conditions and be subpotent or outdated.

Rx Depot President Carl Moore and the company's secretary, David Peoples, who "is responsible for receiving and processing orders," were named as defendants in the suit.

Also named as a defendant is an affiliated company, Rx of Canada LLC, also known as Rx Canada, which is a separate entity that is incorporated in Nevada and owned by Moore's son, Joe-Max Moore.

Rx Canada's Web site lists store locations that are actually Rx Depot stores, according to the Justice Department.

Rx Depot has stores in several states, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Montana.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Montana issued an injunction against Rx Depot on June 25. The state also issued a cease and desist order on June 18 to the Billings Gazette on the grounds that the newspaper was aiding and abetting an illegal act by running a full-page advertisement for another storefront pharmacy, according to NABP.

The Associated Press reported that Montana had succeeded in shuttering the Rx Depot store in its state.

Oklahoma and Arkansas have also taken action against Rx Depot.