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Judge shuts down drug reimportation company

Judge shuts down drug reimportation company

A U.S. District Court judge in Tulsa, Okla., last week granted a Justice Department request to shut down Rx Depot, a company that helps U.S. residents purchase lower-cost medications from Canada. The same drugs sold in the United States can cost substantially less in Canada because of the Canadian government's negotiations with drug companies for price cuts. For example, the anti-HIV medication Combivir can be bought in Canada for about two thirds its cost in the United States. A year's supply of the breast cancer medication tamoxifen costs $3,000 less at Canadian prices. The Justice Department alleges that the Oklahoma-based company violates federal laws that allow only prescription-drug manufacturers to import medications into the United States. Attorneys for Rx Depot, which has 85 outlets in 26 states, argued that the company does not violate any U.S. laws because the prescriptions for its clients are mailed or faxed to Canadian physicians, who rewrite the prescriptions so that they can be filled by Canadian pharmacies. The drugs are sent directly to the customers by the Canadian pharmacies and are not shipped to or from Rx Depot. The company's attorneys also argued that because the Food and Drug Administration does not prosecute individuals who import medications from Canada, the government shouldn't target companies that help consumers with the practice. But Judge Claire Eagen stated in her opinion, "It is reasonable for the FDA to marshal its limited resources against large-scale commercial operations like Rx Depot rather than small-scale individual violators." She also wrote that Justice Department prosecutors conclusively proved that Rx Depot was violating federal drug reimportation laws. Carl Moore, president of Rx Depot, said the company will appeal the decision. "We've lost this round, and it continues," he told The Wall Street Journal. "There are other rounds to go."

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