Norfolk, Virginia - A Norfolk man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to unlawfully sell prescription drugs to consumers without valid prescriptions, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

According to court documents, from October 2007 to September 2010, Lawrence B. Ryan, 48, who was then a physician, conspired with RX Limited, an internet pharmacy organization, to sell prescription drugs without valid prescriptions to consumers in the United States.  RX Limited sold these prescription drugs, including Fioricet (which contains butalbital, a barbiturate that is a controlled substance), carisoprodol (Soma), tramadol (Ultram), Viagra, Cialis, and others, using a network of its own websites and websites registered and operated by affiliates.  RX Limited sent Ryan drug orders for “approval” as a participating physician.  These drugs were sold to customers without a valid prescription, because there was no legitimate doctor-patient relationship between Ryan and the customers.  Specifically, there was no face-to-face contact, no physical examination, no taking of patient histories, and no checking of the accuracy of information provided by the customers, including qualifying medical conditions.  The drugs sold were accordingly misbranded because they were introduced into interstate commerce without valid prescriptions. 

“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting consumers from unscrupulous medical professionals who assist others to unlawfully sell potentially harmful and addictive drugs to American consumers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.

During the time he worked as a participating physician for RX Limited, Ryan approved more than 158,000 illegal drug orders.  Ryan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller, sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia’s Norfolk Division, accepted the plea.  Ryan faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on April 6, 2020.

Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia are the prosecutors for the case.  The Minnesota office of the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service, and the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.