Turkish Nationals Indicted in Counterfeit Cancer Drug Scam Centering on Saint Louis

Two Turkish nationals have been indicted in a counterfeit cancer drug smuggling ring that illegally imported fake cancer treatments from Turkey and other countries and sold them to doctors and clinics in the Saint Louis area.

Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman, both citizens of Turkey, are alleged to have imported “unapproved, misbranded, adulterated and counterfeit cancer treatment prescription drugs,” with the intention of selling them in United States as genuine medication, reports the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its press release on the indictment. The DOJ further reports that the two men “were charged by indictment by a federal grand jury with one felony count of conspiracy to smuggle merchandise into the United States and three counts of smuggling.” They were arrested on January 16th in Puerto Rico.

Semizoglu and Akman are alleged to have concealed the nature of the shipments they were receiving by falsifying the mailing and customs labels to indicate innocuous contents such as “gifts or documents or product sample” and providing a low monetary value for the contents, according to the DOJ. The DOJ also reports that although the medication in some cases required careful temperature-controlled storage and shipping, none of the medications they are alleged to have received were stored in any sort of insulated or temperature-controlled packaging.

Fox2Now Saint Louis reports that Semizoglu and Akman’s alleged crimes first came to light as a result of the investigation of Saint Louis oncologist Dr. Abid Nisar, who pled guilty to charges that he purchased misbranded and adulterated cancer medications and administered them to his patients. Dr. Nisar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of misbranding drugs on February 16, 2012, according to an FDA press release at the time of his guilty plea.

The case against Semizoglu and Akman is being investigated by United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), along with assistance from Europol, the United States Marshal’s Service, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Johnson County Crime Lab of Olathe, Kansas, and the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Missouri and the District of Puerto Rico.

Since 2007, 16 physicians and distributors have been prosecuted by Federal authorities for illegally importing and distributing counterfeit, misbranded, and non-FDA approved cancer medication into the United States secure drug supply chain. To learn more about these cases, please download Black Market Cancer Drug Cases 2007-2013.

By S. Imber