DEA Suspends Online Drug Activity
Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) served an Immediate Suspension and Order to Show Cause to revoke the DEA Registration of a Las Vegas Pharmacy, Prescriptiononline.com (POL). By this action DEA has immediately suspended the controlled substance registration of the pharmacy based on the preliminary conclusion of the Deputy Administrator of DEA that its continued registration constitutes an imminent danger to the public health and safety. As a result, the pharmacy must cease all controlled substances activity immediately and cannot resume operations until a final decision is rendered in this matter.
POL.com has been registered with DEA as a retail pharmacy since October 27, 1999. Since that time, it has operated an Internet Website that permitted any customer throughout the United States to log on to a Website to request a physician consultation. POL.com contracted with various physicians around the country to conduct these "consultations." The customer would complete a cursory, unverified medical history on a form that was sent to one of the physicians. These physicians did not see or examine the customer. The physician would issue a prescription, in most cases for controlled substances. POL.com would then dispense the controlled substances through the mail after a $100 doctor consultation fee had been paid.
On March 7, 2002, DEA served a Federal criminal search warrant against POL.com. Among the items seized during the execution of the search warrant were computerized controlled substance prescription records. Despite this action and the notification by the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy (NSBP) that Nevada law prohibited a pharmacy from dispensing a prescription unless the dispensing pharmacist verifies that a patient-physician relationship was established, the pharmacy continued to pursue its Internet scheme unabated. The NSBP notification explained that such a relationship would be one in which a practitioner has physically examined a patient and, as a result of the examination, has diagnosed a condition for which a given drug therapy is prescribed. Nevertheless, between March 2002 and September 2002, POL.com dispensed over 1.5 million dosage units of controlled substances, 1.25 million of which were Schedule III hydrocodone products.
These actions are being taken as part of a joint investigation by DEA and the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy.