Decode a Fake Online Pharmacy

Two brothers, their mother and a cousin are accused of operating a large-scale fake online pharmacy scam that shipped to consumers all over the globe. The danger that fake online pharmacies pose to U.S. consumers is one of the primary topics we will be discussing September 18 at Interchange 2014 in Washington D.C.

Trib Live is reporting that family members living in Florida, Canada and India have been charged with running a multi-million dollar fake online pharmacy business. Two brothers, Javed Sunesra, of Live Oak, Florida and Zuned Sunesra, 34, of West Mumbai, India were indicted on 17 counterfeit drug charges, along with their mother, Bismilla Sunesra, of Sidney Point, India and their cousin, Taimur Khan, of Vancouver.

According to Trib Live, the family was selling fake drugs through a network of online pharmacies that had more than 400,000 customers worldwide. The websites claimed to be operating with FDA approval, but in actual fact, all drugs sold by them were produced in unlicensed factories in India.

The Daily News reports that 6 residents of Pennsylvania ordered medication from the fake online pharmacies on the assumption they were receiving genuine medication.

According to the indictment filed in Federal Court, the defendants, starting as early as 2005 are alleged to have used their primary “Emedoulet” website along with dozens of other affiliate websites to sell illegally imported counterfeit medication. The websites claimed the generic drugs they sold were produced in factories that were “designed and maintained as per FDA and WHO specifications.”

The indictment states that the Sunesra organization employed at least 30 people, earned at least $400,000 a month, and sold a startling array of counterfeit prescription medications, ranging from antibiotics and antifungal treatments such as Erythromycin and Ivermectin, to ED medications, acid-reflux treatments such as Nexium, and anti-cholesterol medications such as Tricor.

The indictment also alleges that once Federal agents began their investigation, agents posing as customers were able to purchase all manner of medications including; Celebrex (pain), SOMA (muscle relaxant), Geodon (bipolar disorder), Advair Diskus-1 Accuhaler (Asthma), Cymbalta (anxiety), Symmetrel (Antiviral), Lexapro (depression), Xenical (weight loss), Accutane (banned acne treatment), Zoloft (depression), Elavil (depression), Sustiva (HIV combination therapy component), Abilify (bi-polar disorder), Zofran (nausea), and several other controlled substances.

The Sunesra organization websites claimed they sold “same compatible brand name in generic strength prescription products you would find in your neighborhood pharmacy”. According to indictment however, laboratory tests confirmed the drugs ordered from these sites were not the same as comparable medications produced in the United States.

The indictment further alleges that when payment processing became an issue, Sunesra organization set up a gift card business in Canada that was tied directly to purchasing from their online pharmacy. Customers would opt to purchase, then be directed to the website where they were instructed to purchase a gift card of the exact vale amount of their intended purchase. Once the gift card processing was complete the gift card was immediately applied to purchase the medication that had been ordered.

The defendants have yet to enter a plea to the allegations.

By S. Imber