California Board of Pharmacy Doles Out Fines for Filling Internet Prescriptions

The $88.7 million in fines marks the board's first use of legislation signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2000.

by / May 30, 2002
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California State Board of Pharmacy has issued three citations that levy a total of $88.7 million in fines against a Los Angeles pharmacy and two pharmacists for allegedly filling Internet prescriptions in violation of state law.

According to the citations, Total Remedy and Prescription Center II and pharmacists Barry Irvin and William Charles Packer filled more than 3,500 prescriptions in violation of California law. The law makes it illegal for Internet pharmacies to fill prescriptions without a "good faith prior medical examination" by a California licensed doctor.

The Board of Pharmacy is seeking the following fines:

- Total Remedy and Prescription Center II: $54,895,000;
- Pharmacist-in-charge and 50 percent owner, Barry Irvin: $33,140,000; and
- Pharmacist William Packer: $697,500.

Total Remedy and Prescription Center II filled prescriptions written by doctors not licensed in California, according to an eight-month investigation conducted by the Board of Pharmacy. The prescriptions were allegedly for popular drugs, including Viagra for male impotence, Propecia for hair loss, and Xenical for weight loss.

The board contends that consumers ordered the drugs via credit card by simply logging on to a Web site and filling out an online questionnaire. The board also alleges that, in many cases, customers paid more for the drugs than if they had gone through regular medical channels.

"Many consumers deliberately use the Internet to get lifestyle drugs without seeing a doctor," said Steve Litsey, president of the Board of Pharmacy. "I don't think consumers understand how dangerous this can be."

The law gives the Board of Pharmacy authority to issue citations. Fines can be as much as $25,000 for each violation. Total Remedy and Prescription Center II and the two pharmacists have 30 days to request a hearing to appeal the charges.

California State Board of Pharmacy