Canadian Online Pharmacy Owner Indicted in US Federal Court for Selling Counterfeit Drugs To Americans
Andrew Strempler, third from left, holds pharmacy orders.
Jan 3, 2002 photo used with permission from the Canadian Press.
Canadian citizen Andrew Strempler, 38, founder of Mediplan, which fulfilled online medicine orders for ten websites, appeared in federal court in Miami on Thursday, June 14, 2012. He is expected to be arraigned on charges related to a 2005 seizure of drugs shipped by Mediplan into the US. The medications were purported to be Canadian, but US FDA officials claim the medications were actually from other countries, reports the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC).
The US District Court Indictment against Andrew Strempler filed on June 2, 2011 charges that Strempler and his associates “unlawfully enrich[ed] themselves by selling prescription drugs to individuals in the United States, falsely representing that RxNorth was selling safe prescription drugs in compliance with the rules of regulatory authorities in Canada, the United Kingdom and/or the United States, when in fact the defendant and his co-conspirators obtained the prescription drugs from various other countries without properly ensuring the safety or authenticity of the drugs….”
The process of the deception, according to the indictment, alleges that Strempler and his employees purchased prescriptions from foreign countries, shipped them to the Bahamas, and then filled orders made online through RxNorth with the foreign medications in the Bahamas, but with labels stating they had been filled by RxNorth in Canada. The medications were sent to individuals in the United States with a Canadian return address.
Additionally, after fulfilling the orders in the Bahamas, Strempler allegedly shipped packages in bulk from the Bahamas to the UK and Netherlands Antilles, and from there shipped the packages individually to customers in the U.S. Alleges the indictment, “Some of the customer packages contained misbranded and counterfeit drugs.”
As early as October 31, 2001, the FDA warned Strempler to make sure that all his products were FDA approved and therefore legal in the US.
On August 30, 2006, the FDA issued a warning for consumers not to purchase or use prescription drugs from Mediplan’s websites because “laboratory results to date have found counterfeits” on a list of products that included cholesterol drugs, high blood pressure medications, GERD, arthritis, breast cancer and male-pattern baldness. The websites identified by the FDA were rxnorth.com, canadiandrugstore.com, rxbyfax.com, northcountryrx.com, my-canada-pharmacy.com, NLRX.com, Canampharmacy.com, Canada-Meds-For-Less.net and Canadian-safe.com.
Strempler later sold Mediplan to Canadadrugs.com, a Winnipeg-based online pharmacy group that has been implicated in two cases of counterfeit cancer drugs found in the U.S. in 2012, reports CBC. The indictment calls for Strempler to forfeit $95,000,000 in profits from his illegal internet pharmacy business. The maximum penalties for conviction of these charges is 20 years imprisonment.
As of June 20, 2012, Strempler has been detained by the court without opportunity to provide bail because he is seen to be a flight risk, reports the Winnipeg Free Press. His next court date is set for June 29, 2012.
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