Attorney General Addresses Fake Drug Crime

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at a White House forum on consumer health and safety risks related to counterfeit goods in Washington, DC on December 14, 2010.

After addressing and thanking the organizers, he said, “All of us must do more to ensure the health and safety of our citizens, to protect intellectual property rights, to safeguard innovation, and to combat the growing number of organized criminal networks that profit by peddling counterfeits. We do not have time to waste. And every person in this room has a role to play.”

Holder met with administration officials Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission Inez Tenenbaum, and IP Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, along with other consumer safety advocates for a day-long forum on the health and safety risks presented by counterfeit goods. The event, hosted at the White House, included panel discussions on the dangers posed to consumers by counterfeit products, as well as the harm caused to legitimate manufacturers by the illicit trade in counterfeits.

“When criminals sell counterfeit drugs or medical devices, real patients can pay the price,” said Holder.

He continued, “Over the last year, the Justice Department has made significant progress in prosecuting individuals and international criminal organizations that traffic in counterfeit goods and pharmaceuticals.

“In August, we successfully prosecuted a defendant who was selling fake cancer medications to patients in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The drugs – which he marketed as a rare, experimental treatment – were manufactured in Canada, but advertised and sold globally over the Internet. With assistance from Canadian and German authorities, this individual was apprehended and extradited to the United States. He is now behind bars and has been sentenced to almost three years in prison.”

Safe Medicines reported that defendant Hazim Gaber sold a starch and sugar mixture packaged as an experimental cancer drug dichloroacetate (DCA) along with phony certificates of analysis to at least 65 patients from an illegal online pharmacy.

“This fall , a jury in Houston, Texas, convicted a defendant of conspiring with people in China to traffic in counterfeit medicine. In this case, our partners in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol discovered more than 6,000 counterfeit pills that were intended for distribution. These pills weren’t just misbranded – they were found to contain a substance that is used to manufacture sheetrock. That’s right, sheetrock.”

Safe Medicines reported that the defendant, Kum Leung Chow, aka Lawrence Chow, allegedly obtained and distributed a number of different types of counterfeit erectile dysfunction in the United States using a Hong Kong based company.

International AntiCounterfeit Coalition President, Robert Barchiesi, praised the White House’s diligence, “We applaud the Obama administration for its ongoing efforts to educate consumers about the dangers of counterfeiting, and look forward to working to ensure that American consumers remain safe.”

Said Dr. Bryan Liang, of the Partnership for Safe Medicines,”I am pleased that the White House continues to address the issue of counterfeit drugs and the serious health risk they pose to Americans – sick or well. Today’s forum helps elevate the issue further among policymakers, healthcare providers, and the public.”
He added, “I applaud the White House for convening this forum, and look forward to working with them, and governments across the globe, to ensure that our drug supply chain is safe.”