SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Federal authorities have charged FedEx Corp. with assisting illegal pharmacies by knowingly delivering dangerous drugs to customers without prescriptions.
The Department of Justice announced the charges Thursday. The charges allege the Memphis, Tennessee, shipping company conspired with two related online pharmacies for 10 years ending in 2010.
FedEx is accused of shipping the powerful sleeping aid Ambien, anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and other drugs to customers with no legitimate medical need and lacking valid prescriptions.
FedEx officials didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
FedEx first disclosed the federal investigation in a regulatory filing in November 2012. The company said at that time it had done nothing wrong and intended to fight any charges.
FedEx released a statement from Patrick Fitzgerald, Senior Vice President Marketing and Communications Thursday night:
FedEx is innocent of the charges brought today by the Department of Justice. We will plead not guilty. We will defend against this attack on the integrity and good name of FedEx and its employees.
FedEx has a 42-year history of close cooperation with law enforcement agencies. We're proud to say that we have partnered with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, DEA, and other federal, state and local law enforcement teams around the world to help stop illegal drug activity and bring criminals to justice. These efforts include providing assistance to the DEA in combating rogue Internet pharmacies. We have repeatedly requested that the government provide us a list of online pharmacies engaging in illegal activity. Whenever DEA provides us a list of pharmacies engaging in illegal activity, we will turn off shipping for those companies immediately. So far the government has declined to provide such a list.
FedEx transports more than 10 million packages a day. The privacy of our customers is essential to the core of our business. This privacy is now at risk, based on the charges by the Department of Justice related to the transportation of prescription medications.
We want to be clear what's at stake here: the government is suggesting that FedEx assume criminal responsibility for the legality of the contents of the millions of packages that we pick up and deliver every day. We are a transportation company – we are not law enforcement. We have no interest in violating the privacy of our customers. We continue to stand ready and willing to support and assist law enforcement. We cannot, however, do the job of law enforcement ourselves.