FDA warns business that helps customers get cheaper prescriptions

The business sells prescriptions from Canada, but now the federal government is cracking down.

TAMPA, Fla. (WTSP) -- Prescription drug prices have gotten so high, many people turn to other countries, such as Canada, to buy their drugs.

Ernie Rodriguez has been buying prescription through the Canadian MedStore for the past year or so. He said the price of an anti-inflammatory pill he takes skyrocketed.

The Canadian MedStore helps him order it online through a Canadian pharmacy for around $70. In the U.S., the same pills would cost around $550 without insurance

“There's no reason for that,” Rodriguez said. “It's almost criminal.”

For years, the company has been operating in a kind of legal gray area. It's illegal in most cases to import drugs from other countries, but it seems the FDA rarely enforces that.

In the business’ 15 years, owner Bill Hepscher said the FDA has not gone after him, which is why he was so surprised when he got a visit from them the other day. An agent handed him a letter, which basically said he's breaking the law and could be prosecuted.

“It seems that for some reason now there's a policy change, and they've decided to criminalize that,” Hepscher said.

The FDA wouldn't acknowledge any policy change, but tells 10News, “We can and will stop any unapproved drugs or other violative products but generally focus our resources on larger shipments."

Hepscher said he’s worried he might have to close the company’s six stores in the Tampa Bay area. That would affect thousands of customers like Rodriguez, who at best, will have to pay more for prescriptions, and at worst, won't be able to afford life-saving medication.

For now, however, Hepscher plans to continue business as usual.

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