Channel 2 Investigation Exposes Illegal Pharmacy

ATLANTA,None — A Channel Two Action News Investigation discovered a Canadian pharmacy business run out of a northwest Atlanta home. Consumer Investigator Jim Strickland found the drugs were coming from Asia and tracked down the man behind the illegal business.

Strickland notified the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency of an illegal pharmacy called Can Do Meds. Officers with the agency told Strickland they were surprised to hear that the business was still operational as they had instructed the owner, John Pamplin, to shut down.

Strickland approached Pamplin with questions about his operation and the cease and desist order, issued by the State Board of Pharmacy that Pamplin signed.

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"I'm not here with the intention of breaking the rules, I'm here to help people afford their medications," Pamplin told Strickland.

Pamplin is not a pharmacist and therefore not licensed to sell or facilitate the sale of prescription medication. "Just receiving those prescriptions and being involved in the sale of any prescription drug would be considered an illegal act in the state," said Dennis Troughton of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

The Can Do Meds logo uses a maple leaf with the implication that they are a Canadian pharmacy. Pamplin said that he is attempting to establish a Canadian pharmacy business model.

Pamplin originally operated his business out of a Marietta office, nowhere near Canada. He has since moved his business to his home office in northwest Atlanta.

Pamplin was ordered to stop all sales by the Georgia Board of Pharmacy, after he signed the cease and desist order, but a Channel Two Action News undercover investigation revealed that Pamplin was still taking orders. A producer successfully ordered a 90-day supply of allergy medication.

When Strickland asked Pamplin if he had stopped, he replied, "Yes, as a matter of fact we have. We're planning on moving our operations elsewhere."

Strickland questioned Pamplin's most recent sale, made three weeks after the cease and desist order. "She had ordered from us before, and I thought it was appropriate to take care of her refill before I cleared out," said Pamplin.

The Channel Two Action News producer had previously ordered prescription drugs from Can Do Meds that do not have FDA approved generic equivalents here in the United States. The pills were sent to an FDA registered lab for testing.

The results showed that the pills were not necessarily dangerous, but showed an inconsistent amount of active ingredient compared to the brand name drugs

The generic versions of the allergy drugs, Singulair and Xyzal that Channel Two Action News purchased during its undercover investigation were manufactured in India.

Strickland asked Pamplin if the importing of those drugs through his business is legal, and Pamplin responded, "The FDA does allow medications imported for personal use, up to 90 days."

Strickland confirmed with the FDA that is illegal. According to an FDA document, "There is no personal use exception. These foreign pharmacies are misleading you."

Pamplin told Strickland, "For instance, if you have to order Lipitor, if you need that for cholesterol, we can save you 70 to 80 percent."

Pfizer makes Lipitor. As for the cheap Indian-made version, Pfizer security expert Pat Ford said, "It's not approved, particularly in the U.S."

Ford told Strickland that websites like Can Do Meds help perpetuate a multibillion-dollar trade in bootleg drugs.

Channel Two Action News cameras went to Columbia where Strickland witnessed first-hand, Pfizer and Columbia police raid a small-town pharmacy selling what police said were counterfeit Pfizer antibiotics.

Authorities with Pfizer said that the impotence pill Viagra makes up 90 percent of the case load.

Atlanta urologist Steven Morganstern warns his patients about buying online, "It's scary and dangerous. You're purchasing something that there is no control over," he said.

Pamplin said that he is leaving Georgia but not leaving the online drug business.

"A technicality is forcing us to move offshore, and that's really sad," said Pamplin.

State agents with Georgia Drugs and Narcotics say that Pamplin has already offered to pay a fine for violating the cease and desist order, but that they are considering referring the case for criminal prosecution.

The most recent prescription order placed undercover for generic Allegra has not arrived yet. According to local pharmacies, the generic could have been legally obtained for one third of the price that Pamplin charged Channel 2.