United Parcel Post has agreed to forfeit $40 million it made in payments from pharmacies that shipped controlled substances to Americans without valid prescriptions.
"The company also agreed to put a compliance program into place to prevent illegal online pharmacies from distributing drugs through its shipping services in the future, authorities said.
"'Good corporate citizens like UPS play an important role in halting the flow of illegal drugs that degrade our nation's communities,' Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement.
"UPS cooperated with the investigation, prosecutors said."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been investigating FedEX over the same kind of issues. The paper reports that the company called the probe "absurd and deeply disturbing." The spokesman said the government was essentially deputizing the shipping companies, making them responsible for enforcement.
"According to court papers filed as part of the settlement, UPS employees had numerous exchanges showing they were aware of legal problems surrounding many Internet pharmacies," the Journal reports. Prosecutors say, for example, that UPS knew that customers using the service preferred packages to be delivered at "parking lots and roadsides."
UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told Reuters that the company has "an obligation and responsibility to help curb the sale and shipment of drugs sold through illegal Internet pharmacies."