In a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment handed down by a grand jury in November 2014 and unsealed on August 11, 2015, Ram Kamath, Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications for New York-based PharmacyChecker.com, is one of fourteen individuals at PharmacyChecker.com, PharmD and Winnipeg-based CanadaDrugs.com to be charged with crimes related to the sale of $78 million worth of mislabeled and counterfeit prescription drugs. Additional charges include smuggling, improper storage, falsifying customs declarations, money laundering and conspiracy.
Kamath will be arraigned in a U.S. federal court on August 25. The other defendants are located outside the U.S. and have not yet been extradited to face the charges. According to the DOJ indictment, Canada Drugs and its affiliates illegally purchased the mislabeled and counterfeit drugs abroad and then routed them through Egypt and Barbados for sale to doctors in the U.S. Prosecutors say that when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating Canada Drugs’ involvement in distributing counterfeit versions of the cancer drug Avastin in 2012, Kamath agreed to illegally store some of the counterfeit Avastin in his garage while Canada Drugs was shipping its inventory back to the UK.
According to various outlets,since 2001, CanadaDrugs.com has been a preeminent outlet for selling to U.S. customers. PharmacyChecker.com, headquartered in White Plains, NY, claims that all of the foreign drug suppliers on its website are legitimate and safe, despite being illegal to order from and despite the fact that some of these suppliers have been the subject of counterfeit drug warnings.
Other PharmacyChecker.com-approved online pharmacies whose operators have been indicted and/or convicted include RxNorth.com, ApexOnlinePharmacy.com and ShopEastWest.com.
According to the Association for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), 97 percent of all online pharmacies do not comply with U.S. laws and 50 percent of medicines sold online are counterfeit, containing everything from paint thinner to arsenic, floor wax and other poisons. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says this DOJ case underscores that the problem of illegal online drug sellers who peddle counterfeit products is urgent and rampant.
“Consumers may think they’re saving a few dollars by purchasing medications online, but illegal online pharmacies continue to ship mislabeled products containing unsafe ingredients that put consumers at risk,” said Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center. “And it’s not just a consumer safety issue; more than 750,000 American jobs are lost annually because of counterfeit products including fake pharmaceuticals.”