In 2001, the FDA warned Andrew Strempler that selling drugs from his online pharmacy to U.S. citizens would be illegal. He did it anyway and now he’ll spend the next few years in a U.S. prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Strempler, a Canadian citizen who pleaded guilty last October, was sentenced to four years in prison, was ordered to forfeit $300,000, and fined $25,000 on Wednesday.
Court documents say through his company RxNorth, Strempler and associates were selling drugs that were not in compliance with U.S. law or checked for safety or authenticity. Some of the drugs were counterfeit.
Web sites that sell pharmaceuticals illegally, pose a threat to buyers because there’s no way for a person to tell what’s actually in them. There’s also the possibility of identity theft from unsecure online transactions.
Strempler’s operation worked by shipping drugs from all over the world to a facility in the Bahamas that served as his fake dispensary. In the Bahamas labels were added to the boxes and vials that said the order was filled at RxNorth in Canada then shipped through multiple countries to the United States. Shipments that ended up in Florida, contained counterfeit drugs, says the Justice Department.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery hopes the sentence will work as a deterrent to anyone interested in selling counterfeit drugs. The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations says it is working to hold counterfeiters and traffickers accountable.
“This case highlights that even when complex criminal networks engage in such illegal activities on a global scale from a foreign-based location, without regard for risk to human life, they are still held accountable for their actions in the United States,” said David W. Bourne, an agent at the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations in Miami.
Also, check out the FDA’s campaign to help consumers buy medicines safely online, BeSafeRX.
photo by maaco/flickr