The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a Houston doctor received a sentence of 40 months for conspiracy, distributing Human Growth Hormone (HGH) for unauthorized medical purposes, and smuggling. A jury convicted Dr. George Patino in June after a three-day trial.
According to court documents, federal law limits the medical uses for HGH, such as wasting disease associated with AIDS or Prader-Willi syndrome. Bodybuilding, anti-aging or weight loss treatments are not approved medical uses of HGH. Evidence presented at trial showed Patino sent multiple packages of HGH to Dr. Michael “Ted” Mimlitz, a local St. Louis doctor, and his patients. Mimlitz pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges of introducing misbranded drugs into Interstate commerce.
Patino smuggled the HGH from Mexico. A Korean manufacturer made the drug and it was not approved for sale in the U.S. Special Agent in Charge Spencer Morrison of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) said, “For drugs that enter the U.S. from outside the FDA-regulated distribution system, there is no guarantee that the drugs are safe and effective for patients to use. We will continue to work to protect the health of patients who rely on prescription drugs and to ensure the safety and effectiveness of those drugs.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Patino’s lawyer asked for the doctor to receive a break, sighting his health and the needs of his patients. Patino also denied being a repeat offender. According to the BBC, he was jailed for fraud in the United Kingdom in 2008 for selling fake Viagra online. The scheme earned him the nickname of “King of Viagra.”
FDA-OCI investigated this case with the assistance of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations.