(STL.News) – A former Norfolk physician has been sentenced for his role in a long-running Internet pharmacy operation, the Department of Justice announced.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar sentenced Lawrence B. Ryan, 48, to 10 months’ incarceration and ordered him to forfeit $316,153, which constitutes the proceeds from the offense. Ryan pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.
As part of his guilty plea, Ryan admitted that from October 2007 to September 2010, he approved more than 158,000 online drug orders for RX Limited, an international Internet pharmacy organization that sold prescription drugs without valid prescriptions to consumers in the United States. Ryan admitted that the drugs included Fioricet (which contains butalbital, a barbiturate that is a controlled substance), carisoprodol (Soma), and tramadol (Ultram). RX Limited sent Ryan drug orders for approval as a participating physician. These drugs were sold to customers without a valid prescription, because there was no legitimate doctor-patient relationship between Ryan and the customers. Specifically, there was no face-to-face contact, no physical examination, no taking of patient histories, and no checking of the accuracy of information provided by the customers, including qualifying medical conditions. The drugs sold were therefore mis-branded because they were introduced into interstate commerce without valid prescriptions.
“The Department of Justice has long been committed to protecting consumers from those who unlawfully sell potentially harmful and addictive drugs to American consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Ordering drugs on the Internet in the absence of a valid doctor-patient relationship is risky to consumers and can lead to impairment and addiction.”
Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Minnesota office investigated the case, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.