Rapid Response: A Double Standard Arrives in the Mail

July 21, 2014 1:00PM

News broke last week that Tennessee-based FedEx is being charged with assisting illegal pharmacies. The Department of Justice wants the company to pay a whopping $820 million to the government to compensate for the alleged profits FedEx earned from purportedly shipping illicit pharmaceuticals. The DOJ claims FedEx knowingly participated in the prohibited transactions for 10 years. Patrick Fitzgerald, spokesman and a Senior VP for FedEx, told USA Today that they have requested from the government a list of names of illegal online pharmacies for years and never received such. “Whenever the DEA provides us a list of pharmacies engaging in illegal activity, we will turn off shipping for those companies immediately,” said Fitzgerald. There appears to a double standard from the DOJ when it comes to cracking down on this issue. In 2013, rival company UPS—not to be confused with government-run USPS—was fined $40 million for similar allegations. If these two major, private companies have apparently engaged in delivering illegal substances, chances are USPS has too. Yet, there has not been a single finger pointed to USPS. Oh wait! Maybe it’s due to government bureaucracy’s impeccable ability to abide by its own endless set of rules and regulations…or perhaps USPS being on the brink of bankruptcy has served as a safeguard from receiving such penalties. Why fine them if they can’t afford to pay? At the end of the day, FedEx is a shipping company and not a law enforcement agency; it should not be held to that standard. FedEx delivers over 10 million packages a day. It would be a hefty, better yet impossible, burden for it to bear criminal responsibility for each package it ships. A more efficient use of government time and effort is to crack down on illegal pharmacies directly, instead of penalizing the messenger. If the feds are going to penalize “the messenger”—like FedEx and UPS— they should at least take a look under their own hood. -Kate Farrar