Counterfeit and altered medications.

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by DTJ6PPC, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. DTJ6PPC

    DTJ6PPC New Member

    This AP article just showed up on my Earthlink Health Newsbox and may be of interest, especially to those in Florida that have not yet seen these indictments.......Don

    19 Indicted in Prescription Drug Fraud

    July 21, 2003 04:00 PM EDT


    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida grand jury investigating pharmaceutical wholesalers indicted 19 people on charges of peddling bogus or diluted medications for cancer and AIDS patients, authorities said Monday.

    Michael Carlow and 17 others were indicted on a variety of charges including racketeering, conspiracy and other offenses associated with prescription drug fraud.

    The charges involve drugs such as Neupogen, which is used to treat cancer and HIV; Gammagard, for HIV patients; and Epogen, for cancer and AIDS.

    A second indictment accuses Jose Grillo of relabeling Epogen to show that it was 20 times stronger than its actual potency so he could sell it for a higher price.

    "It's hard to imagine a more heinous crime perpetrated upon an individual who's counting on what they believe to be a legitimate drug to save their lives," state Attorney General Charlie Crist said.

    The indictment does not accuse the defendants of causing any deaths.

    Each count carries between five and 30 years in prison. Investigators said the defendants made tens of millions of dollars from the scheme.

    It could not be immediately learned if the suspects have lawyers.

    Dozens of prescription drug wholesalers in Florida were under investigation on suspicion that they had substituted genuine medications with weaker or bogus drugs. Authorities said the wholesalers put lives at risk because the tainted drugs are eventually sold to hospitals and pharmacies.

    About 55 of the state's 1,458 wholesalers were under suspicion. Authorities said that the 19 represented some of the most egregious criminals involved in the scheme and that more indictments are expected.

    The grand jury issued a report earlier this year calling for stricter licensing, more inspections and tighter oversight. It also backed tougher penalties for violators - including the death penalty if someone dies as a result of an adulterated drug.

    The report said drugs to boost the immune system of cancer and HIV patients have become a favorite of counterfeiters.

    In one case cited in the report, criminals realized a $28 million profit from a shipment of 11,000 boxes of counterfeit Epogen and Procrit, which is also often prescribed to cancer, AIDS and kidney-failure patients.

    Last month, Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law a bill creating stricter permit rules for prescription drug wholesalers and harsher penalties for people who mislabel or counterfeit medicines.

    Prescription drug counterfeiters can now face up to life in prison if the drugs they make or sell lead to an injury or death. Counterfeiting previously carried a maximum of five years in prison.

    Drug wholesalers are also forced to undergo background checks, and the state Health Department has greater authority to shut them down.