11 people have been indicted in an $8.6 million prescription drug importation scheme. Gallant Pharma International allegedly imported non-FDA approved drugs into the United States, then repackaged the drugs with US labels. Gallant Pharma posed as a Canadian pharmaceutical company shipping low-cost drugs from Canada to the U.S.
The drugs sold by Gallant Pharma, including “intravenous chemotherapy drugs and injectable cosmetics” are alleged to have been shipped from foreign countries, such as Turkey and India, says the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The alleged operation began in 2009, and Gallant Pharma was shipping right up until June 2013, according to the indictment. Prosecutors allege that Gallant Pharma generated over $8.6 million in illegal revenue over that time period. Of particular concern is that Gallant Pharma allegedly sold the illegally imported and misbranded drugs to doctors, hospitals, and medical offices all over the country. It is as yet unclear just how many medical professionals were taken in by this ruse.
The DOJ reported the indictment of 11 people for their alleged involvement in a vast drug diversion scheme. Employees and owners of Gallant Pharma International have been indicted on 17 different charges ranging from importation of misbranded drugs into US commerce, to wire fraud, and unlicensed medical wholesaling, reports the DOJ.
Of the 11 indicted, 7 were arrested. They are: Syed “Farhan” Huda, of Arlington, Virginia; Deeba Mallick, of Arlington, Virginia; Anoushirvan R. Sarraf, of Rockville, Maryland; Talib Khan, of Montreal, Canada, and Barbados; Harvey Whitehead, of Troy, Michigan; Lisa Coroniti, of Devon, Pennsylvania; and Robert J. Sparks, of Springfield, Virginia.
In addition one of the indicted, Munajj Rochelle, who is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, is currently incarcerated in Montreal, Canada, on unrelated charges. Arrest warrants have been issued for the last three defendants, Robert Wachna of Ottawa, Canada, Mirwaiss Aminzada, of Montreal, Canada, and Patricia Durr, of Boynton Beach, Florida.
The DOJ indictment indicated that Gallant Pharma International presented itself to US customers as a Canadian pharmaceutical wholesaler, however their operations were located in Virginia, and they were not licensed to sell pharmaceuticals either in the United States or Canada. The Washington Post reports that Gallant Pharma actually operated initially from an apartment in Crystal City, Virginia, but had grown to the point that they had “a force of salespeople with dedicated territories across the country”. The Washington Post also states that allegedly Gallant Pharma was not an FDA licensed drug wholesaler and did not follow FDA rules for drug packaging.
This investigation was conducted by FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement Agency Group 33 Diversion Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Arlington County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Lindsay A. Kelly, Alexander T.H. Nguyen, and Ryan K. Dickey are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.