Feds seize mail-order prescriptions

Federal agencies investigating a local business have been seizing prescription drug orders arriving at the Carson City post office from overseas as part of their inquiry.

A number of Pharmacy International customers who purchased drugs through the business have not received their orders, which were confiscated by customs agents.

In February, federal agents served Pharmacy International with a search warrant, seizing documents, records and computer equipment. No charges were filed.

Owner Ron Weddell denies any wrongdoing and continues to operate his business, which places orders with foreign pharmacies on behalf of private citizens in the United States. The overseas pharmacy then directly mails the drug to the individual in the U.S.

"The federal government is working on behalf of the drug companies to keep prices high," Weddell said.

Weddell added that a 90-day supply of the cancer drug, Nolvadex, costs $400 at Costco's pharmacy, whereas the same drug can be purchased from overseas for $90.

"Nobody expects drug manufacturers can import drugs from abroad," Weddell said. "Why is that? So manufacturers can have a monopoly and set exorbitantly high prices."

However, Weddell said it is perfectly legal for private citizens to important drugs for personal use.

Virginia Kice, a spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, refused to comment specifically on the case, but generally said articles (such as drugs) could be "potentially" seized as part an ongoing investigation.

The FDA routinely seizes prescription drugs that arrive by mail at various port of entries around the country.

A Carson City resident who ordered a generic form of the popular cholesterol cutting drug, Lipitor, had her package confiscated by the FDA as it entered the country.

She received a notice in the mail from the FDA, which cited Section 505(a), 801(a)(3) of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

"The article appears to be a new drug without an approved new drug application. Drug is available in the U.S. and, therefore, not permitted for personal importation," the letter read.

Another Pharmacy International customer's order of Lipitor, Celebrex and Allegra was detained at the airport by the FDA, which cited the same reasons. Doctors commonly prescribe Celebrex and Allegra to treat, respectively, chronic arthritis and severe allergies.

n Contact reporter Dan Moreau at dmoreau@nevadaappeal.com or 887-2430 ext. 351.


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