FedEx Indicted for Shipping Illegal Pharmacies’ Drugs

FedEx Corp. was accused in a federal indictment of delivering prescription pain pills, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs and other controlled substances for illegal Internet pharmacies. A conviction could be “material,” the company said today in a regulatory filing.

The operator of the world’s largest cargo airline was indicted on 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and misbranded drugs and drug trafficking that carry a potential fine of twice the gains from the illegal conduct, alleged to be at least $820 million for it and co-conspirators. FedEx delivered drugs to Internet pharmacies that supplied pills to customers who filled out online questionnaires and were never examined by doctors, knowing these practices violated federal and state drug laws, according to the federal indictment.

The company vowed to fight the charges, saying it can’t be responsible for the contents of the 10 million packages it transports daily and that policing customers would violate their privacy.

“FedEx is innocent of the charges,” Patrick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Memphis, Tennessee-based company, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “We will plead not guilty. We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees.”

Yesterday’s indictment in federal court in San Francisco comes more than a year after United Parcel Service Inc. agreed to forfeit $40 million in payments it received from illicit online pharmacies under a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.