Image courtesy of web.archive.org. Free World Pharmacy’s website on June 7, 2015

According to the Gainesville Sun, Larry Burstein, an Alachua, Florida resident, received a sentence of four years in federal prison for his role in a multimillion dollar internet pharmacy case. Burstein and his co-conspirator Edward Leonforte both pleaded guilty in federal court in 2016, according to the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ). Burstein pled guilty to conspiracy.

The sites, with names like freeworldpharmacy.com and medsindia.net, sold 90-day prescriptions for generic versions of Darvocet, Xanax, Soma, codeine, and Valium, along with other controlled substances that they shipped across the country. The drugs came from suppliers in Romania and India. According to the DOJ, between 2007 and 2014, Burstein operated multiple websites that sold more than $7 million worth of prescription drugs without requiring customers to provide a prescription. An undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent purchased codeine pills multiple times during 2012 and 2013 without a prescription.

According to court documents, in 2015, the websites sold 120 codeine tablets for $166 and displayed a disclaimer that stated that the company operating the website was not a pharmacy. The government estimates that the websites sold more than $385,000 in generic codeine, a Schedule II drug, during 2015. Co-conspirator Leonforte is scheduled to be sentenced on September 25, 2017.

This case was a joint investigation by the DEA and the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation. The Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Alachua Police Department, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Ocala Police Department, the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service all assisted in this case. Assistant United States Attorney Jason S. Beaton prosecuted the case.