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Online Pharmacy Pioneer Arrested In Florida

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the internet-pill-man dept.

Crime 208

FeatherBoa writes "A Manitoba man who was one of the first entrepreneurs in the cross-border online pharmacy industry has been arrested in Florida and is facing charges related to the sale of foreign and counterfeit medicines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claimed many of the drugs promoted as Canadian actually came from other countries. An FDA spokesperson commented, 'Many of these websites are operating outside of the United States. However, the internet's broad reach allows these websites to reach U.S. consumers.'"

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Nothing better to do (4, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334663)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is bored and screws with a guy who helps people buy the health products they want to buy. News at 11.

Alternate interpretation (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334737)

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is vigilant and stops a guy who helps people buy what appear to a layperson to be the health products they want to buy but are in fact frauds that will kill them or do nothing while getting them to avoid proper treatment."

I'm not sure which is right, because I don't have the facts of the case, but it's quite possible that what the FDA is doing is a good thing.

Re:Alternate interpretation (3, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334773)

Well at the very least you have to assume that someone trying to sell you a drug with limited ad space is far less likely to disclose all the potential side effects and dangers then your local pharmacist/doctor (who are legally bound to not lie to you).

Re:Alternate interpretation (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334937)

Sure, that is a serious risk, but when some people have to choose between rent and their medication, it is a risk that they might be willing to take. If your doctor prescribed a medicine that cost you $200 even though you were insured, and that $200 would be the difference between eating and not eating, what would you do? Your choices are basically (a) forgo treatment or (b) seek a cheap alternative.

Re:Alternate interpretation (3, Interesting)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335009)

The medical industry has found that it is best to take advantage of the sick by reducing production and increasing demand.
For example, over the counter Vial of 70/30 humalin in 2002 was $20, now it is $76. 10 years later it has "inflated" well past even grocery store inflation.
The cost of gas is not the cause.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335079)

That product is long, long out of patent protection and available in generic form. No single company should be able to constrict demand. Even if that is the case, then they fall under antitrust laws and a suit should be filed.

Re:Alternate interpretation (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335383)

That product is long, long out of patent protection and available in generic form. No single company should be able to constrict demand. Even if that is the case, then they fall under antitrust laws and a suit should be filed.

Most of the drugs that have been subject to shortages have been generics. Cheap generics. Even after all of the hue and cry about the shortages (this is apparently a US only issue) it isn't very clear exactly WHY the drugs are in short supply. It may well be that they are too cheap - it's simply not profitable to make the drug, test it and deal with the various regulatory agents for the price the market will bear. It may be that the generic companies don't have their manufacturing acts together. It may be an evil conspiracy set in place by the Illuminati. It may be all of the above.

Antitrust has (likely) very little to do with this. In fact, most of the drugs that I've seen that are short supplied have numerous sources - at least from the pharmacy ordering end. Whether or not there are multiple manufacturers is harder to discern.

And further, even for generics, the inflation rate has tracked way past pretty much everything else for years.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335619)

I'll preface this with the fact that I know nothing of what I speak.

The most likely explanation I've heard is similar to the diamond situation. If someone wants to start producing pharmaceuticals at a rate that would harm the big boys profits, they (would) simply lower the cost temporarily and drive the newbie out of business.

Combine that with a dab of conspiracy; they'll only continue selling the "good stuff" (new drugs) at semi-affordable prices if everyone plays ball and makes sure they still get a decent percentage of the old drug market (by limiting supply).

Given that neither scenario directly involves breaking (many) laws, and you can see the exact same stuff happening in other markets I tend to believe that explanation.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335119)

From the summary it looks like this isn't quite the case.
Doctor prescribes medication X, which can be had for $100/pill in the US
Patient finds X online, shipping from Canada for $10/pill. Patient thinks this is a great deal and orders the medications.
Patient receives medication Y shipping from who-knows-where which may or may not be as effective as medication X.
FDA cracks down on the online store for defrauding customers with potentially dangerous medications.
Cue the sympathy for the poor little online store being stomped by the giant US gvt agency for only trying to help Granny get her meds cheaper

Re:Alternate interpretation (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334837)

The FDA is enforcing trademarks for US business interests. Nothing more, nothing less. They might stop someone from taking a harmful counterfeit drug, but they will also stop many from getting the drugs they need. Whether the former is greater than the latter, I doubt if they considered for an instant.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335083)

Well, as much as I am for choice and not being locked down to specific companies, I don't trust companies that bypass every known safeguard of medicine. (i.e. skirting the FDA, and maybe getting their drugs from the UK or something)
I don't want to get gangrene from my prescription obtained from Finland.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335211)

I don't want to get gangrene from my prescription obtained from Finland.

Don't worry, you can still get gangrene from your prescription obtained in the good old USA. There are over two million [fda.gov] adverse drug reactions to FDA approved drugs per year.

Re:Alternate interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335399)

[citation needed]

You're just a full of shit conspiracy theorist unless you can prove your case.

Re:Alternate interpretation (5, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334867)

Probably true, but this is more a problem with HealthCanada than the FDA.

If I buy my drugs from a Canadian Pharmacy, I know (or should know) that I will be subject to Canadian regulations and quality control standards. The FDA's involvement in this should be no more than to inform me of this fact.

What broke down is HealthCanadas oversight of this guy's operation. The article seems to suggest that Strempler "every intention of conducting an ethical and professional business". Of course, that was one of his online pharmacy buddies opinions.

The FDA cannot assure the safety and efficacy of products that are purchased outside of legitimate channels.

HealthCanada isn't legitimate? Well, maybe not. So the solution should be: deport Strempler and see how the Canadians deal with him.

I'm all for the FDA keeping the American public informed as to what meets standards and what does not. But this situation isn't much different than me visiting Tijuana and eating at a local taco stand. The health codes aren't up to US standards, but I know that.

Re:Alternate interpretation (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335007)

HealthCanada my be legitimate, but it isn't the FDA. It may be better or worse then the FDA, but that isn't the point, it is because they are not approved threw the FDA.

The difference is if you go across the border to get your drugs or a Taco, you know you are leaving FDA rules, and you accept the risk. If you are in the United States, you expect what ever you buy there should be within the rules of the FDA.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335459)

Here's an idea that's been floated before - allow drugs approved by a few other agencies to get imported. Agencies from large industrialized countries who appear to be doing at least as good a job as the FDA in weeding out counterfeit and poorly made drugs. Does anyone think that the Canadians or French or Germans are falling over left and right due to contaminated drugs? Does anybody think the FDA is perfect?

This sort of thing could be done in the space of a year or so. It would solve a number of problems but would never fly politically.

Limited Trust (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335961)

Does anyone think that the Canadians or French or Germans are falling over left and right due to contaminated drugs?

No, we are not. However in all fairness, in reverse I would not want to take drugs that the FDA had approved but which Health Canada had not (unless the risk was medically worth it) because of things like bovine growth hormone which the FDA (or at least some US government agency) has approved for use on cattle which enter the human food chain but which very few (any?) other countries have. While Americans may not be keeling over from this it is known to affect the development of children and potentially may affect your health.

Where I would be far more willing to trust the FDA is if a drug is approved for use in Canada but I could buy it cheaper in the US I see no problem in purchasing the FDA approved version of the drug on the basis that I expect US quality control standards on drugs to be as high as Canada's. However given the prevalence of for-profit healthcare in the US I cannot imagine that I will ever find a drug which is cheaper in the US than in Canada - those corporations have got to make their money somehow!

Re:Alternate interpretation (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335085)

More like ordering delivery from that Tijuana taco stand. I bet if you operated a taco stand just on the other side of the border and tried to deliver into the USA, you'd get busted for that too. The FDA has also been cracking down on the production and sale of Mexican Bathtub Cheese [colostate.edu] and raw milk, despite the fact that most of the people imbibing those particular delicacies are well aware of the potential risk.

Re:Alternate interpretation (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335147)

But this situation isn't much different than me visiting Tijuana and eating at a local taco stand. The health codes aren't up to US standards, but I know that.

Not really. Unless you're a dispensing pharmacist or medial professional, you're unlikely to be able to tell if the little yellow pill you ordered online is in fact your gout medication, a generic antihistamine, or worming meds for cats, and you won't know until your gout gets worse.

Re:Alternate interpretation (3, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335557)

Unless you're a dispensing pharmacist or medial professional, you're unlikely to be able to tell if the little yellow pill you ordered online is in fact your gout medication, a generic antihistamine, or worming meds for cats, and you won't know until your gout gets worse.

But on the bright side, your worms cleared up!

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40336063)

>me visiting Tijuana and eating at a local taco stand. The health codes aren't up to US standards, but I know that.

Thank you for your racist comment. Mexico has health boards, thank you. How is the Tijuana stand different than the same stand operating in Far Rockaway? It isn't, except that you choose a racist example.

Re:Alternate interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334891)

Why should the FDA be allowed to decide what you can and can't ingest? If you want to eat arsenic, it's not any of the government's business. If you want to drink a 64 oz coke, it's none of the government's business.

I'd prefer a world where the FDA was limited to gathering and publishing data on a what's in a drug and what side effects have been observed. Period. The speed with which information travels limits any rationale for a gatekeeper like the FDA or DEA.

Give people the information they need and most people will make rational decisions. The minority of people who don't make rational decisions don't constitute a reason to hand the government powers it shouldn't have over the rest of us.

Re:Alternate interpretation (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335173)

His customers aren't being charged. What the FDA is doing here is saying that you can't sell a 64 oz Coke laced with arsenic and claim it's just a 64 oz Coke.

(And I'm with you on the soft drinks in New York thing)

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335445)

And how, exactly, do you propose to have any knowledge that what the FDA describes in the documents and what you actually got are anywhere near the same thing? Or are you really stupid enough to believe that just because you received a bottle that says 'lisinopril 10mg' that is what it really is in an unregulated environment? Or maybe your wonderful super-fast communication will get the word out that bottles marked 'lisinopril 10mg' are dangerous, and you should not take them? Of course, if you have the real thing and get this wonderful information you will not be taking the drugs you need.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335609)

"Why should the FDA be allowed to decide what you can and can't ingest?"

Because they know best. TFS says that they found out that the WORLDWIDE WEB has a relatively broad coverage that reaches apparently also the US.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335047)

Yes and no. The crux of the FDA's argument is that some of the drugs come from other countries. That may be technically true but what the FDA isn't saying is whether these drugs are actually safe. Many pharmaceutical companies manufacture and sell in other countries. In some places the differences are minor. For example, a pain killer sold in Europe may have a higher dosage than allowed in the US but is the same drug. Or the the labeling is not in the correct language which makes it hard for the user to read about side effects or follow directions ("ie take with food. Do not take with alcohol") and thus legally cannot be sold in the US. I would like more details.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335513)

Although there are minor dosing issues, it has always impressed me on how similar foreign drugs. Omeprazole 20 mg (generic Prilosec) is the same thing in the UK and in Germany. The labeling issues are pretty silly. If you get a prescription of the same drug from two different pharmacies is will often have different warning labels. It's pretty random (and useless).

If the US hadn't adopted the metric system for drugs and remained on the 'grains' and teaspoon structure of the 1800's we might have a problem. Canadian drugs in particular are very, very close to American brands, strengths and formulations.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335587)

Getting the same prescription from two different pharmacies should certainly NOT result in two different labels. If it does something is very wrong. The 'labeling' includes not only the sticker the pharmacy puts on the bottle, but also the patient information sheet that comes with the drug. The bottles may be different (they are not regulated), but the patient information sheet (the real 'label') is the same.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335545)

That is just the point - the FDA does not know if the drugs are safe or not, because they are not regulated by the FDA.

Re:Alternate interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335097)

This stuff is coming from Canada, not some third world country. The odds that it's dangerous counterfits rather than simply the exact same thing US consumers would buy at home, but at better prices, are slim. This just highlights the compromised role of the FDA - working for the US pharma. industry rather than US consumers.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335729)

Yeah, the stuff came from Canada. Except for the stuff that he said came from Canada but actually came from somewhere else. As for 'working for US pharma (ooh, evil!)', are you saying that the FDA does not approve drugs from non-US companies? Bullshit.

Re:Alternate interpretation (1)

waterford0069 (580760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335111)

I'm within 2 degrees of separation of Strempler individual (I know a few people who went to high school/university with him).

The feeling as I understand it is that Strempler is/was actually hounestly trying to provide reliable drugs, an the company did do regular testing. However, the problem that come in that the global supply chain is full of counterfeits (thank globalisation and the far east). Stock from one supplier can be reliable one week, and not the next.

Perhaps having to do this extra testing has an upward pressure on drug costs in the US, and perhaps not doing enough testing is Strempler's mistake.

Is it excusable? No. I think it's a case of Misfeasance or Nonfeasance; not Malfeasance.

As an aside, he probably meant to go to Miami Manitoba, not Miami Florida - it's an easy mistake ;-)

Re:Alternate interpretation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335375)

You obviously don't know shit about the FDA, naive young man.

Re:Nothing better to do (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334809)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is bored and screws with a guy who helps people buy the health products they want to buy. News at 11.

While what he is doing may be shady, I will say that Canadian drug stores enabled my mom to take a much more expensive brand-name drug that she wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. This drug was not covered on her insurance, and the ones that were covered were not effective for her condition.

She refused to let her children buy it for her, but when I found it online for 20% of the price (after pill splitting), she was able to afford it.

The problem I wish the FDA would address is exorbitant drug prices in the USA compared to what the rest of the world pays.

Re:Nothing better to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334877)

The problem I wish the FDA would address is exorbitant drug prices in the USA compared to what the rest of the world pays.

Can't do that, that's too much socialism. They're just BARELY willing to tolerate it as it is, in fact the hardcore libertarians would prefer to get rid of it entirely, and let people set up their own screening agencies.

Who would have to protect their own trademarks.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334923)

Don't assume they are interested in your well being. So long as they can pocket your cash, they wont care one bit.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334995)

Sorry, but were you referring to the American pharmaceutical companies, or the online pharmacies?

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335035)

Everyone.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40336057)

Take your pick. Big business isn't in the business to help you. They're in the business of getting fat by gourging themselves in every attainable resource, like all parasites.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334957)

I have sufficient faith in Canada to pop pills regulated by them. But the summary says: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claimed many of the drugs promoted as Canadian actually came from other countries."

If true, this is effectively sandwich-baggie stuff, plus false advertising.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334969)

This drug was not covered on her insurance, and the ones that were covered were not effective for her condition.

Name and shame?

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334967)

If he is not selling drugs and properly reporting where they come from, it could be a major health concern. For those who work in the Health Industry, You need to be sure that everything is properly documents and reported correctly. Ok you get these pills from a tiny nations (who seemed to be a major exporter of sugar) at 1/10th price, which appears to be brand name drug. Now you my be actually getting the real drug, or a forgery made from sugar, or worse, a copy from some of the active ingredients at different percentages, or different drugs all together. If you are not reporting it correctly, who knows. The FDA isn't cracking down on cheap drugs, but improperly documented drugs as they can be harmful.

That would be a crime in Canda. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335261)

So deport him to Canada to face trial.

If there is no proof of this, then he will be free to continue business.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335429)

> Now you my be actually getting the real drug, or a forgery made from sugar, or worse, a copy from some of the active ingredients at different percentages, or different drugs all together.

There's a lot of FUD in that statement. Pretty much everything in the US comes from foreign made suppliers, except for drugs, because apparently Taiwan can make state of the art hard drives but can't mix two chemicals together.

There are plenty of reputable offshore drug suppliers and they're usually much much cheaper than US brands. I buy my Finastride from Cipla and pay about 1/8th the price for my meds.

Re:Nothing better to do (1)

redkingca (610398) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335519)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is bored and screws with a guy who helps people buy the health products they want to buy. News at 11.

Actually he was buying generics made in different places(China and India) and re-packaging them as made in Canada, they may have been tested(no paperwork was ever produced to say so as far as I know). He turned in his pharmacy license before he could be convicted of fraud, unethical behavior and malpractice. He was an idiot to be in the US, he knew there were open outstanding warrants for him in the US.

Re:Nothing better to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335839)

".... health products .... "

[CITATION NEEDED]

I'd have some sympathy for any company claiming to sell health products that haven't gone through the FDA, if quarterly mass-spec analysis results done by 2 independent labs were released for every product the put to market.

Pro-tip: (5, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334741)

If you run (or have run) and online pharmacy that sold to Americans, a online casino or poker site that let Americans play, a file sharing site, and so on then do not set foot in America.

Best not get on a plane that flies near America (though that's going to be hard for Canadians) just in case.

At least make them go through the work of an extradition and maybe pick a country who doesn't just bend over and say "how far do you want me to stretch?"

Re:Pro-tip: (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334769)

For the hard nuts, we have extraordinary rendition.

Re:Pro-tip: (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335727)

Sure if you are running a file sharing site, but the more minor offences like selling fake pharmaceuticals that kill people are unlikely to result in that.

Re:Pro-tip: (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334859)

Canadians can still fly on plenty of domestic airlines, and I doubt an Air Canada flight that passes over, say, Alaska on the way to Tokyo, is going to divert to the US to arrest somebody.

In terms of if the FDA is overreacting, I'd suggest that if Canadian authorities aren't arresting the guy in Canada, then whatever he is doing is probably not bad enough that the FDA should get involved when he visits the US.

Re:Pro-tip: (2)

hweimer (709734) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335067)

Canadians can still fly on plenty of domestic airlines, and I doubt an Air Canada flight that passes over, say, Alaska on the way to Tokyo, is going to divert to the US to arrest somebody.

Sometimes flights get diverted for other reasons (technical problem, medical emergency, ...) and the US will know that you are on the plane because they require access to PNRs for flights passing over US airspace.

Re:Pro-tip: (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335717)

Sure it's unlikely to do so just to arrest somebody, but planes sometimes have to land where they aren't scheduled to. Which is why it was in the "just in case" sentence, it's an additional risk on entering US jurisdiction.

Re:Pro-tip: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335579)

Or don't set foot in America no matter who you are. I'm a simple web developer I don't even smoke pot and I used to live and work in the States, now I live 15 minutes away from the border and I haven't been there for years. If I want to fly to Mexico I'll gladly pay more for a direct flight than a connecting flight through the States. And I know many many people who've stopped travelling to the States as well. If you look at conferences that are usually held in American cities, international attendance increases significantly when the same conference is held in Canada... Not sure why you got modded Funny, probably by Americans who are in self-denial.

Federalist #51 (Madison): (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334751)

Federalist #51 (Madison):

"But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human
nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were
to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be
necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over
men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government
to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334759)

I cannot understand why anyone would see an add for drugs online and actually go ahead and purchase that online without doing to your doctor/pharmacist, talking to them about the drug and then getting it through official channels.

You have no reason to believe that any claims made by someone trying to sell you drugs online are true, and no reason to believe that the little white pills shipped to you are even what you ordered. At the very very least, you cannot be at all confident that other medications yo are taking do not conflict or you have some other physical attributes that make taking it dangerous.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334793)

And seeing a doctor is somehow going to make this better? Certainly not where I live. One way or another, the only useful information about a drug I've ever been able to get was from self-research.

Seriously, I've seen doctors prescribe pregnizone without any mention of any potential interactions and side effects, and that's the kind of drug where the side effects are often worse than the symptoms being treated.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (5, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334933)

Seriously, I've seen doctors prescribe pregnizone without any mention of any potential interactions and side effects, and that's the kind of drug where the side effects are often worse than the symptoms being treated.

Pregnizone? Are the side effects of that drug children?

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335003)

Pregnizone doesn't exist.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335131)

No, but a quick Google search will tell you that it's an extremely common misspelling of prednisone.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334817)

I can think of several reasons people would do this:
1. Some people are stupid.
2. People are often on a very very limited budget, and the online option may appear at least to be cheaper than the drugstore.
3. (Corollary to 1) Some people will diagnose themselves with illnesses that the doctor doesn't think they have, so they'll go and buy the treatment through channels that don't involve official doctors and prescriptions.
4. People who abuse prescription drugs would likely find this a very convenient option.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334945)

I do it because it's convenient, it's cheaper and I don't have to sit for hours in some doctor's office to get my prescription renewed.
As you may have guessed, it's boner pills and my insurance doesn't reimburse those anyway.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335107)

Turn in yer geek card. Anyone who can't get hard (penile or clitoral) just by thinking about Star Wars and Linux shouldn't be reading this site.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334863)

There are a lot of uninsured and underinsured people out there. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, and you'll be out $150 of grocery money if you take an office visit (not to mention the time off of work you won't be getting paid for), then self-diagnosis on the Web and foreign pharmacies start looking like attractive options.

This is what people are forced to do in a for profit health care industry.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335747)

This is what people are forced to do in a for profit health care industry.

Precisely; if the American health "care" industry wasn't fundamentally broken, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334883)

I cannot understand why anyone would see an add for drugs online and actually go ahead and purchase that online without doing to your doctor/pharmacist, talking to them about the drug and then getting it through official channels.

When a 30 day supply of a medication that greatly improves your life costs hundreds of dollars from legal channels, and only a fraction of that from online pharmacies, what do you do? This is one of the problems with health insurance in America -- you have uninsured and in some cases insured people who cannot afford medicines. There is also the consequences of the war on drugs, which leaves us vulnerable to the demands of pharmaceutical companies for medicines that can be grown in our backyards (and I am not just talking about marijuana, although that is a prominent example).

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334971)

When a 30 day supply of a medication that greatly improves your life costs hundreds of dollars from legal channels, and only a fraction of that from online pharmacies, what do you do?

You mean "when something ostensibly labeled the same as the medication that greatly improves your life is advertised on online pharmacies, who often have no accountability to actually supply you with the real thing whatsoever". These types of online places aren't in it for the altruism - they are in it for profit, and preying on the weak. I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335023)

Sure, that is a risk and it should not be downplayed. My point is that for some people, the choice is between not receiving treatment or taking a chance on an online pharmacy (or receiving treatment legally, but not being able to eat or pay rent).

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335255)

These types of online places aren't in it for the altruism - they are in it for profit, and preying on the weak.

And why do you think the pharmaceutical industry is in it?

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335335)

And why do you think the pharmaceutical industry is in it?

And that's EXACTLY why they are heavily regulated by the FDA and local laws.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335989)

Exactly, the FDA is a means for the pharmaceutical industry to profit and prey on the weak. If you can't get cheap drugs from Canada, you'll buy the overpriced American drugs.

If they really cared about the patient's health, they'd be figuring out ways to get real drugs to patients for a reasonable price without importing. But I don't see that happening.

There are many reasons to buy drugs online (1)

nomaddamon (1783058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334909)

I live in EU and i fly to Egypt twice a year to update my drug supply (in addition to a nice vacation).
I have chronic migraine (serious pain every 3-5 days, I've seen all the best doctors nearby and no one can help me)
There is one drug that can take the pain away in ~2 hours... the problem... it costs 80$ (after subsidies) a pill thanks to patents.
On average i need 2 pills per seizure (my worst has been 4 pills).
Buying the medications from EU will mean around 15k / year

In Egypt they sell a generic version of the same drug, only they don't pay patent fees... it costs 2$ for a box of 20 pills.
So going to Egypt twice a year and bringing back the maximum legal amount of the medicine costs me around 1k / year and i get 2 weeks of vacation as a bonus

So yes, I would buy it on-line if i could, but it's illegal thanks to the same companies who are making 8000%+ margin on the pills...

Re:There are many reasons to buy drugs online (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335295)

I have chronic migraine (serious pain every 3-5 days, I've seen all the best doctors nearby and no one can help me)

Have you tried low doses of psilocybin mushrooms?

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335005)

Eh, it really isn't that hard: just adjust the prices of doing the things you talk about, and the available income of the person making the choice, and it all falls into place. Secondary cases would include people on long-term maintenance drugs and people who are looking to score some of the more interesting anesthetics. Unless you are reasonably well insured, even some fairly prosaic drugs can be painfully expensive through official channels, and getting a doctor to have a look, have a chat, and write the prescription also quite pricey.(You do, of course, also have the people who are, for whatever reason, hellbent on ignoring medical advice concerning side-effects and contraindications and getting the drug anyway)

As for quality, the major distinction to worry about(and, this one probably isn't always trivial to judge) is 'black market or grey market?' Drug makers have extremely strong price discrimination in place, and the US is pretty much always on the high end. 100%-genuine-chemically-identical-and-blessed-by-Pfizer-but-only-for-snow-mexico can easily be vastly cheaper than otherwise identical product stamped for sale in the US.

Re:Cannot Understand his Customers (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335509)

> I cannot understand why anyone would see an add for drugs online and actually go ahead and purchase that online without doing to your doctor/pharmacist, talking to them about the drug and then getting it through official channels.

Well, I think it's stupid for anyone to take any med without talking about it with their doctor. That said, meds in the US are marked up to an absurd level. It's often much cheaper to talk with your doctor, get a prescription, toss that in the waste basket and just order the med from India.

Skype replaces P2P supernodes with Linux boxes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334777)

Skype replaces P2P supernodes with Linux boxes hosted by Microsoft (updated)
http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/05/skype-replaces-p2p-supernodes-with-linux-boxes-hosted-by-microsoft/ [arstechnica.com]

"Too late, but hey, thanks for trying Microsoft"[3]
"Years and years waiting for a decent version of skype for linux drove me to other solutions.
I no longer use skype for anything.

Still I'm utterly astounded that it took Microsoft ownership [1] to finally pry a halfway decent and up to date version from the developers. I presume all the wiretap hooks are now in place, now that all the calls are routed thru Microsoft's [2] servers, and the CLEA people are happy?"

[1] http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2011/10/14/its-official-microsoft-now-owns-skype/ [seattlepi.com]
[2] http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/05/skype-replaces-p2p-supernodes-with-linux-boxes-hosted-by-microsoft/ [arstechnica.com]
[3] http://linux.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2916797&cid=40329507 [slashdot.org]

Counterfeit or foreign? (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334779)

So was he selling counterfeit drugs or foreign, non-Canadian drugs that could possibly be counterfeit but there's no evidence that they are? They seem like two different things.

Re:Counterfeit or foreign? (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334921)

That's because his crime was selling drugs to a US citizen below their listed retail price.

Pick up your newspeak dictionary (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334975)

"Counterfeit" does not necessarily mean "fake" or "mislabeled," it may me "the real deal, but in violation of a patent or trademark." Unless the FDA is publishing a chemical test that demonstrates that these drugs were not what they claimed to be, I would bet that the word "counterfeit" in this context means the latter.

Re:Pick up your newspeak dictionary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335165)

"Counterfit" could probably also mean "made by the same manufacturer in the same (non-US) factory but never imported by that manufacturer to the US."

Similar to video games and DVDs -- different prices for the same product in different regions, despite being made by the same company in the same factory.

Re:Counterfeit or foreign? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335313)

Team Intellectual Property has done their level best to lump all classes of 'products that they don't like' into a homogenous category of wickedness.

One would think that a meaningful distinction could be drawn between the following categories:

1. Fakes: Capsules full of god-knows-what fraudulently labelled as being something else and sold as such.
2. Counterfeits: Generic drugs (or non-OEM compatible FRUs, in situations like ink cartridges) fraudulently sold as being the name-brand good.
3. Unauthorized resale: Authentic goods being sold in some manner that makes the manufacturer a sad, sad, panda.
4. Authorized distribution: Authentic goods being sold as the manufacturer wanted.

Unfortunately for everyone, except for the blatantly self-interested parties, there has been a concerted effort to muddle the genuinely pernicious and dangerous class 1, and the possibly safe but definitely fraudulent, as in class 2, with the merely-cuts-into-profits-from-price-discrimination-between-countries of class 3.

Thus, while ICE will attempt to hunt you down if you are shipping in boxes of sugar pills labelled as some drug, or generic printer cartridges stamped "HP", they will also bust you for importing authentic Rolexes, legally purchased outside the US, if the trademark holder doesn't want you selling them in the US, despite them being 100% genuine product, with no theft or fraud in the distribution chain...

Re:Counterfeit or foreign? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335889)

I wish I could score this insightful. Even if the FDA really is doing a bang-up job for American patients (and my personal experience in using effective offshore meds for my heart condition for the last 12 years says the agency is functionally superfluous in this regard), its heavy reliance on the research results of the very companies it is supposed to regulate to determine the safety and efficacy of the products they vet is troubling. The squabbling obfuscation noted in fuzzyfuzzyfungus' post further erodes the agency's authority and the price differential between domestically-approved and equally-effective foreign generics in yet another nail in the coffin of the FDA's credibility.

It would be nice to think that the FDA has my best interests at heart, but when it forces me to decide between eating and taking my hypertension meds, it all looks like false nobility in my eyes.

Re:Counterfeit or foreign? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335627)

Just as "arrest" and "conviction" are two different things.

Re:Counterfeit or foreign? (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335867)

He probably wasn't selling "counterfeit" drugs, any more than a pharmacy selling generics are.. more likely he did use the brand name to promote the sale of a generic though,.. As to "foreign".. ok, um in the first place Canada is technically a foreign country, so there's that.. and then there is the fact that we in the US pretty much buy everything foreign made.. known or not... so saying "foreign made" is supposed to be scary, or a crime ?.. Walmart would be the criminal masterminds of all time if selling "foreign made" is a crime.

Got Constitution? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334795)

"AP sources: Immunity offered to certain immigrants"

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_IMMIGRATION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2012-06-15-09-36-35

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies."

To all you suckers who followed the rules and got your papers legally, bwahahahaha.

Counterfeit drugs in Florida ... AGAIN (1)

Lluc (703772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334823)

Florida has been a hotbed of counterfeit and stolen prescription drugs. I doubt this is a simple case of someone helping the uninsured buy legit drugs from Canada -- maybe it would be in another state, but not Florida. For more information I recommend reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Doses-Counterfeiters-Contaminating-Americas/dp/0151010501 [amazon.com] .

Still not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334873)

Facts aren't in folks, can't be sure they were legit drugs... but

The Pharma industry pressured Obama to ensure that cheap Canadian drugs (not counterfeit, the exact same drugs you have in the us but cheaper ) would never reach Americans because it threatened their monopoly and profits.

Part of that was claiming Canada would send tainted drugs from terrorists to the US, which is absurd, just absurd.

I wouldn't by random medications from joe blow on ebay, but an actual online retailer? Sure, it's the same drugs and the only difference is you don't have to take out a second mortgage.

i know Americans are brainwashed into thinking in Canada medical treatment is 1800s style, it's not, in fact, we're above you in quality of care, it's the access that is an issue, you can't buy your way to the head of the line in Canada, it's done on a need by need basis. Our drugs are the same drugs made by the same companies, they just can't jack up the prices like they do to you.

It's a crying shame that many uninsured americans are being robbed of access to medicine over money, I will never ever understand a for profit medical system, ever.

Capitalism,legislated. (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#40334901)

US business is always preaching e benefits of free market capitalism, yet the drug industry is regulated and restricted in a manner that artificially inflates prices and restricts competition. If this person was selling counterfeit medicine, by all means throw the book at him for endangering lives. But if all he is doing is supplying a gray market product, he is actually serving a valid economic purpose by helping to push down the prie of essential medical supplies for an aging American population.

Re:Capitalism,legislated. (5, Insightful)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335241)

Very few US businesses preach free market capitalism. They preach managed market capitalism. They achieve that goal through the practice of crony capitalism. Crony capitalism increases in effectiveness with the size of government (and its power). And free market capitalism gets the bad rap as government power and size increases. Go figure.

Re:Capitalism,legislated. (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335625)

US business is always preaching the benefits of free market capitalism, ....

Yes, but most US businessmen are not capitalists, but monopolists. To give an sports analogy. If a runner tries to do her best and wins the race that's good, and races will thrive. If the runner tries to win the race by shooting her competitors, or getting rules to eliminate them, she might win one more race, but the spectators will go away, and no more races will be held. There must be competitors for there to be a race.

Monopolists try to wipe out the competition. The end game, if they are successful, is worse off for everyone, even the monopolists. They get to swim in their vaults of gold and cash, but if they truly win, the economy collapses, and everyone starves. (Yes, Mr. Monopoly starves last, but he does starve)

Re:Capitalism,legislated. (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335671)

Right now there are many levels of business pushing up drug prices. In particular, insurance companies need their profits. This became worse when Bush put the federal government in the equation with medicare part D. This allowed drug companies to use hundred of billions of dollars of tax payer money to keep the prices high. Those of us in the middle pay twice, once for out own drugs, once for subsidized drugs.

We should impose efficiencies in drug distributions. Ads are a waste of money. The alleged high price marketing persons are probably a waste of money. Regulate drugs to make sure they are safe, limit payments to professionals to create fake research, and let the market pay what it feels is justified for the drug. Assume that some people are not going to have the drugs because it is simply not a priority. As Nancy said, just say no to drugs.

The government = corporation profit enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40334955)

The main crime this guy committed was potentially lowering the profits of drug corporations.

Think about the staggering cost of investigating, prosecuting, and jailing this guy. Imagine if that money was spent providing free lab testing services to anyone who brought in pills they thought were questionable. Which expenditure would be the most effective use of resources assuming your goal was preventing people from being harmed by counterfeit or adulterated drugs?

Because we know no licensed pharmacist would ever think about adulterating drugs....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Courtney

Re:The government = corporation profit enforcement (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335117)

I'm thinking there are far less licensed pharmacists skirting the law than unlicensed ones...
which by very definition are skirting the law, in every way.

International drug certifications? (1)

bdabautcb (1040566) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335029)

When I see stories about the pervasiveness of the internet and its efficacy in aiding distribution of internationally sourced drugs, I wonder why the easy dissemination of electronic information hasn't been implemented by any global organizations to provide testing and certification of drug manufacturers. For example, a global group such as the WHO could provide an opt-in service where a manufacturer submits to testing and receives either a rating or pass/fail type of certification regarding the quality and purity of their drugs. I think most above-board manufacturers would even pay for or split the fees to obtain widely respected approval.

I am not a chemist and can not speak to what the cost of such testing would be, however I would imagine that dealing with established generic drugs it could be accomplished at a fraction of the money spent by the FDA on granting their approvals. US pharmaceutical companies would obviously be opposed to such a system, but in cases like this international oversight may be a catalyst for shifting the focus of drug manufacturers from maximal profit to providing effective, high quality drugs at prices more representative of market cost.

Silk road (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335071)

How about letting businesses build reputations for selling safe, reliable drugs? You know, like how things worked at a certain other online drug store...

Re:Silk road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335607)

Part of the problem with this is the effect of the things that involve getting a bad reputation.

Arrested *in Florida* (-1, Troll)

guygee (453727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335039)

That is pretty much all you need to know to judge the merit of the state's case, *in Florida*

coa3k (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40335277)

AND MORTIFYING track of where The party in street as 7o which *BSD New core is going impaired its 40,000 workstations

FDA doubts (1)

bjs555 (889176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335403)

If I had more faith in the FDA I might side with them on this. But it seems that the FDA is now so heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry that I have my doubts. I think an important function of a regulating body like the FDA is to not only investigate the safety of a drug but also its efficacy. In my opinion, the FDA is very weak in that area. New drugs that are no better than old ones and possibly more dangerous since there is no long term experience with them are approved all too often in the name of profits. It seems that new drugs with very small statistical benefits over existing drugs get patented and approved. I'm not saying that all new drugs fall into that category but some do.

He's not squeaky clean (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40335673)

He lost his credentials to practice in Manitoba, and was charged with professional misconduct in 2009. http://goo.gl/O3zdd [goo.gl]

If its run from within Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40336041)

If its a pharmacy run from within Canada, then prior to filling the prescription, the pharmacy must have a prescription from a Canadian Doctor (Period!, Full Stop!). Health Canada is *REALLY* anal about that. Any American wanting to purchase drugs from a Canadian online pharmacy has to visit a Canadian doctor in order to get prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies (online or otherwise). Now Canada has publicly funded medicare (bad Canada, bad,bad,bad,etc.), and as a result, pharmacies can get drugs at a much cheaper rate than American pharmacies (when you are buying bottles of pills, its cheaper buying 60 million cases than half a dozen bottles). Lets just call it some kind of magical Canadian economics-of-scale thing. So even if the drug manufacturer is in the US (eg: Phizer of Illinois), a pharmacist in Manitoba can get it cheaper than a pharmacist in Chicago, even though Winnipeg is 864 miles northwest of Chicago (you republicans can shake your fists northward now). If the pharmacy was running within Canada, thats the only way it could run. The FDA has its strings pulled by big pharma, so if the pharmacy was being run from within Canada, then this is a political arrest, not unlike anti-Putin supporters in Russia, or Chinese dissidents, but instead of the arrest being based on the slim virtue of politics and societal well being, its would be based on corporate greed.

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