By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A CBS-3 undercover investigation on Dangerous Deals, buying and selling prescription drugs without a doctor. Our investigation has led to an arrest. Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side uncovering this growing health hazard.
“Please don’t put me on camera. I’ve got an important job,” said a man running away from CBS-3 cameras.
Stephanie Stahl said to him as he was running, “You could hurt people.”
He replied out, “Sorry.”
He’s part of an underground network that’s exploding. People are illegally selling powerful prescription drugs online. Craigslist is especially popular. New York City police just arrested 21 people.
It’s a widespread and dangerous problem around the country, and here in Philadelphia.
You name it, we found it. “The best pain meds now” including Percocet and Morphine, powerful narcotics. “Addy and other fun stuff.” “Addy” is short for the stimulant Adderall.
There are ads for medications to treat everything from acne to arthritis.
We went undercover to meet a second man, posing as potential buyers.
Our undercover photographer said, “You’re selling it?”
That man replied, “Yeah, yeah.”
Our photographer said, “So you’re selling it.”
That guy, who said his name was Chris, was trying to illegally sell Enbrel, a potent drug for arthritis that, like most drugs, can have a number of potentially serious side effects. He said his doctor changed his prescription, and he was getting rid of his left over meds.
Chris was selling eight Enbrel kits for $320. They would normally cost more than $2,000.
Stephanie Stahl walked up to the scene saying there was an undercover camera.
Chris replied, “Oh.”
Stahl said, “Do you have a license to sell these drugs?”
Chris said, “No ma’am, I was trying to help somebody else out who told me they had a problem.”
Stephanie replied, “Yeah, do you know this is illegal?”
Most drugs on Craigslist are cheaper than a pharmacy, and you don’t need a prescription.
“It could be potentially very harmful and very dangerous. You don’t know if the drugs are the true drugs. Are they tainted drugs? Are they expired? Are they fake drugs?” said Dr. Rosemarie Leuzzi, an internal medicine specialist with Cooper University Health Care.
Which brings us back to the first man, Myron Prutzman. We went undercover outside a restaurant in Hamilton, New Jersey. He’s not a doctor or a pharmacist, but he’s trying to sell the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis to our undercover photographer. He also said he could get other drugs.
“Call me in a week if you really want good pills,” said Prutzman.
He had Cialis sample packs that he claimed came from a doctor.
“I got a female doctor. She opens up her drawer, and says here help yourself,” said Prutzman.
He even wanted to give us a business card, but things changed when I showed up.
Stahl asked, “Do you know you’re breaking the law?”
Prutzman replied, “I’m breaking the law, please don’t put me on camera though. I’ve got an important job.”
Stahl said, “You could hurt people.”
Prutzman replied, “I’m sorry.”
Stahl said, “Are you worried about hurting people Myron?”
He replied, “I’m sorry.”
Stahl said, “You could be putting people in danger.”
He left behind one drug pack, that was expired. So we took it to the police, along with his license plate number and our undercover video.
“To be honest it’s very brazen. He has a bag of drugs, in broad daylight in front of a restaurant. It’s a highly traveled area. It’s pretty scary. I mean it just shows to what extent some people go to sell these things. It’s very disturbing,” said Detective Frank Schalek, with the Township of Hamilton Police Department.
Days later Hamilton Township police arrested Prutzman and charged him with Possession and Distribution of Prescription Drugs. His car was also towed to the police department to be searched.
As police took Prutzman in to the police station, Stahl asked, “Myron, do you have anything to say?”
He replied, “No. Made a mistake.”
Stahl asked, “You what?”
He replied, “I made a mistake.”
Where did Myron Prutzman get those free samples of Cialis? It’s still not clear. Eli Lilly, the pills’ maker, tells CBS-3 it will work with the Hamilton Township
Police on their investigation.
We called Craigslist about the online ads for prescription drugs, but did not get a response.