Skip to content

Time left to comment:

Day
Hour
Minute
Second

Peddling Poison: The Counterfeit Drug Problem in America

The Partnership for Safe Medicines released a video about the recent conviction of counterfeit drug seller Manuel Calvelo on youtube. The video, available here, is narrated by counterfeit medicine victim Rick Roberts, a patient advocate who has spoken about his experience receiving vital life-saving medicines that turned out to be fakes in front of Congress and at the Interchange.

Roberts explains the case of Manuel Calvelo, a Belgian citizen who ran numerous online fake pharmacies that sold so-called generic versions of non-generic drugs that claimed to treat serious health concerns, such as a heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Instead the medicines were tested and found to be fakes by FDA agents.

The Partnership for Safe Medicines released a video about the recent conviction of counterfeit drug seller Manuel Calvelo on youtube. The video, available here, is narrated by counterfeit medicine victim Rick Roberts, a patient advocate who has spoken about his experience receiving vital life-saving medicines that turned out to be fakes in front of Congress and at the Interchange.

Roberts explains the case of Manuel Calvelo, a Belgian citizen who ran numerous online fake pharmacies that sold so-called generic versions of non-generic drugs that claimed to treat serious health concerns, such as a heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Instead the medicines were tested and found to be fakes by FDA agents.

Agents pursued Calvelo through a sting operation. They posed as pharmaceutical wholesalers and engaged Calvelo in a recorded video chat where he explained how his counterfeit drug operation worked. He worked from Costa Rica, but used a call center located in the Philippines and distributed employee salary via wire transfers to the Philippines, Costa Rica and the United States.

Said the FDA, “Calvelo’s Web sites offered for sale more than 40 prescription drugs including brand names Viagra, Depakote, Glucophage, Zoloft, Lipitor, Cialis, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin. Controlled substances for sale from the Web site included Alprazolam (sold under the brand name Xanax), Lorazapam (Ativan) and Clonazepam (Klonopin). Under federal law, the crime of misbranding includes dispensing a prescription drug without a valid prescription from a licensed practitioner.”

Agents extradited Calvelo from Costa Rica, and he was charged in Kansas District Court with conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to commit drug trafficking. He pleaded guilty, admitting that from 2005 to 2008 he and a Canadian co-conspirator, Jeffery Westmoreland, still at large, operated websites that offered fake drugs available without doctor prescriptions to U.S. customers in violation of federal law.

By S. Imber

Scroll To Top