The courier firm FedEx faces drug-trafficking charges after being indicted by a federal grand jury in California, in a case that highlights the growth in illegal online pharmacies selling dubious medication to people without prescription.
The 15-count indictment accuses FedEx of conspiring in the delivery of illicit pharmaceuticals, including the sleep aid Ambien and the slimming drug phendimetrazine, despite repeated warnings from the authorities.
During the period covered by the indictment, between 2000 and 2010, FedEx is alleged to have adopted special policies governing the dubious deliveries that would prevent its employees being penalized if a pharmacy closed for business. Prosecutors said the firm made some $820m (£480m) by turning a blind eye to the questionable trade.
US attorney Melinda Haag said, "The advent of internet pharmacies allowed cheap and easy distribution of illegal prescription drugs to every part of the US, while allowing perpetrators to conceal their identities... This indictment highlights the importance of holding corporations that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behaviour." Marjorie Clifton, the executive director of the not-forprofit Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, said over 100,000 deaths a year are linked to prescription drugs that have been bought online.