945266_Safe Medicines

Andrew Strempler, third from left, holds pharmacy orders.
Jan 3, 2002 photo used with permission from the Canadian Press.

The pharmacist in the Bahamas who provided order fulfillment for fake online pharmacy pioneer Andrew Strempler and his RXNorth/Mediplan online pharmacies has been ordered by an appeals court in the Bahamas to return to court. Missouri Bain Thompson faces charges that she knowingly shipped counterfeit medication to US consumers.

A Bahamian pharmacist, Missouri Bain Thompson, has been ordered back to court to face counterfeit drug distribution and fraud charges on an Attorney General appeal of a judgment originally dismissed by the Grand Bahama magistrate, the Bahamas Tribune reports.

According to the Bahamas Tribune, Thompson’s Personal Touch Pharmacy allegedly acted as a front for a multinational fake online pharmacy operation that was owned and operated by Andrew Strempler, Canada’s fake online pharmacy pioneer.

Bahamas Court of Appeal reports that the “prosecution’s case was that, by way of conspiracy between the Respondent (Thompson), Dwight McCoy (a US citizen) and RX North.com (in the person of Andrew Strenipler [sic]), the Respondent’s pharmacy, Personal Touch Pharmacy [the pharmacy] was used to import counterfeit pharmaceutical products; namely counterfeit Lipitor, Singulair, Celebrex, Hyzaar, Plavix, inter alia, into Freeport, for onward export to patients in the USA.”

In August of 2006, the FDA sent out a warning to US consumers concerning counterfeit medications, including fake Lipitor and Celebrex, that were sold by RX North and associated online pharmacies.

The FDA warning recommended that “consumers who have purchased drugs from these websites not use the products because they may be unsafe. Laboratory analyses are underway for intercepted product that was destined for the U.S. market. Preliminary laboratory results to date have found counterfeits of the following drug products from these websites: Lipitor, Diovan, Actonel, Nexium, Hyzaar, Ezetrol (known as Zetia in the United States), Crestor, Celebrex, Arimidex, and Propecia. All of these medications require a prescription from a licensed health care provider to be legally dispensed.”

At Strempler’s sentencing, the system by which he allegedly utilized Thompson’s Personal Touch Pharmacy was described by the Department of Justice press release:

“Strempler caused prescription drugs from foreign countries to be shipped to a facility that Strempler operated in the Bahamas. Prescription orders made through RxNorth were then filled at the Bahamas facility, with labels on the vials and drug cartons stating they had been filled by RxNorth in Canada. Strempler then used indirect routes involving multiple countries to ship packages with prescription drugs from the Bahamas to individuals in the United States. Shipments mailed from the Bahamas, containing packages addressed to individuals in the Southern District of Florida, included counterfeit prescription drugs.”

The document alleges that RxNorth patients were deceived into receiving counterfeit drugs instead of authentic that were housed in Freeport by Thompson. In June 2006, the same drugs were sent to Miami via courier and seized by law enforcement at Miami International Airport. They were subsequently tested and found to be counterfeit by the manufacturers and the FDA.

Thompson is not only accused of shipping counterfeits into the US for a fake Canadian online pharmacy, but is also accused of knowingly selling counterfeit medicine in her own pharmacy in The Bahamas. According to the document, the authorized supplier of Lipitor, also a pharmacist, told Thompson that the medication she sold in her own pharmacy had counterfeit packaging.

The Court of Appeal ruling reinstates the charges originally filed against Thompson, namely conspiracy to abet fraud by false pretenses, and abetment of fraud by false pretenses in the knowing distribution of counterfeit medication.

By S. Imber