Oklahoma's RX Depot fighting to stay in business

Wednesday, September 17th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa-based company is fighting to stay in business. RX Depot says many of its customers must choose between buying groceries or paying for their prescriptions.

Now those people are in trouble because the Oklahoma pharmacy board shut down the depot's business. News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says those who are "for" RX Depot say the lower-cost Canadian drugs are a lifesaver.

Opponents say the "discount" may come with a price. It's a fast-paced, high-pressure job at pharmacies like Drug Warehouse in Sand Springs. Measuring, checking and re-checking prescription medications. And there's no room for error. “Somebody comes in town, opens up a little store front somewhere and starts shipping medication in here. What recourse do you have if somebody gets the wrong medications? There are a lot of ramifications to this.” Jerry Heller is President of Mays Drug Stores and Drug Warehouse.

He says he understands the need RX Depot is trying to fill. "We're on the front line; we deal with this every single day, and I realize how desperate many people are." Heller says many people are so desperate; they'll buy drugs that aren't approved by the FDA.

Although David Peoples with RX Depot argues Canadian drugs are just as safe. "Oklahoma's RX Depots may be temporarily closed. But this David versus Goliath battle is far from over. David Peoples says it will go through federal court and the decision could affect people all over the country. "The problem is, RX Depot spreading this out across the country in a quick fashion and it's taking a larger market share than what they expected at this time."

RX Depot is only shutdown in Oklahoma, but the US Justice Department wants its 85 storefronts shutdown nationwide. "This is not a safety issue; it's been conclusively studied by our own government." Heller: "but it's illegal. I mean if I was involved in that act both the state and the federal government would shut me down tomorrow, but I have a lot at risk, I can't do it."

Heller and Peoples agree, something has to change in order for America's seniors to survive and they look to pharmaceutical companies for answers. A Tulsa judge will consider the federal injunction on October 8th.

Peoples says he hopes thousands will show up at the federal courthouse to show government leaders they're fed up. Jerry Heller says importing drugs, is still illegal.