AG Confiscates More Than 10,000 Pills From Internet Pharmacy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - State investigators confiscated more than 10,000 pills that were shipped over the past three days to Kentucky from a Florida-based Internet pharmacy, Attorney General Greg Stumbo said Friday.

Stumbo alleged the operation stopped the prescription drugs from making it to Kentucky's underground drug scene.

The Kentucky Bureau of Investigation, an arm of the attorney general's office, estimated the street value of the drugs at more than $80,000. Most of the pills were the painkiller hydrocodone, which has been widely abused by addicts in the Appalachian region.

The drugs were seized from shipping hubs in Frankfort, Langley, Lexington, London and Louisville. Ultimately, the drugs were to be delivered to numerous other towns, most of which were in eastern Kentucky, Stumbo said.

Stumbo said no charges had been filed against Clearwater, Fla.-based AVEE pharmacy. Investigators were researching to see if any laws had been broken, he said.

"The Internet has a dark side, and we must think and act quickly to protect our communities from rampant drug abuse," he said.

Howard Hoffmann, an attorney for the pharmacy, said Stumbo's accusations were "absolutely untrue."

"I want you to write that six times," said Hoffmann, who is based in Chicago. "That's a reckless, irresponsible statement."

Stumbo said investigators from the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation have confiscated more than $1.1 million in drugs sent to Kentucky from Internet pharmacies since 2005.

Kentucky law requires Internet and out-of-state pharmacies to follow prescribed public safety rules and all drug sellers must obtain a permit from the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy.

The attorney general's office said subpoenaed records for confiscated packages from drug busts dating back to August 2005 showed recipients in some instances were paying at least two times as much for them through the Internet as they would at local

People who legitimately needed the drugs could have gotten them at lower costs from conventional pharmacies in their local communities, Stumbo said.

Investigators say drug dealers and abusers have increasingly turned to ordering prescription drugs from Internet pharmacies since law enforcement agencies began cracking down on local doctors last year.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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