Unapproved Cancer Drug Sold Online Found to be Starch and Sugar

Distributor Sentenced to Prison

A Canadian man was sentenced to 33 months in prison by an Arizona judge after pleading guilty to distributing counterfeit drugs earlier this year.

Hazim Gaber had pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud in connection to selling a white powder he claimed was the experimental cancer drug dichloroacetate (DCA) to at least 65 patients from a now defunct illegal online pharmacy, DCAdvice.com, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Research conducted in 2007 at the University of Alberta showed that DCA shrunk breast, lung and brain tumors in lab rats. However, the drug has yet to get approval from health authorities. That did not stop Gaber from selling the counterfeit drugs, claiming that he was the only legal supplier of DCA and that he was being supported by the university.

Testing revealed that the powder that Gaber sold was simply a counterfeit drug, made of starch, dextrin, dextrose or lactose. Gaber charged $110.27, plus shipping and handling, for the fake medication. According to the plea agreement, he sent the counterfeit drugs, along with phony certificates of analysis and instructions on how to take the powder, to people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Holland and Belgium.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement that Gaber's actions constituted a "new low."

"Hazim Gaber went from selling false hope to cancer patients to now spending 33 months in a U.S. prison," the statement said. "Criminals often seek to exploit the most vulnerable of victims – but offering fake, unapproved medication to cancer patients reaches a new low."

The case was investigated by the Phoenix FBI Cyber Squad with help from local authorities and the Edmonton police, who were first alerted to the counterfeit drugs in 2007 when a local woman told them that the medication she purchased from Gaber came in a spice bottle that was dissimilar to the packaging of DCA she had previously used. A number of similar complaints followed and Gaber was eventually arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, in July 2009. In addition to the 33-month sentence, U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg imposed a $128,800 in fines and restitution.