Ram Kamath, who was listed as PharmacyChecker.com’s Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications as of March 16, 2015, is one of eight people indicted by the US Justice Department for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute $78 million worth of non FDA approved and counterfeit cancer medications into U.S. doctors’ offices.

PharmacyChecker.com Director named in CanadaDrugs.com indictment

March 16, 2015 screenshot of the PharmacyChecker “About” page.
Click on image for full pdf. Screenshot courtesy of webarchive.org.

Ram Kamath, who was listed as PharmacyChecker.com’s Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications as of March 16, 2015, is one of eight people indicted by the US Justice Department for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute $78 million worth of non FDA approved and counterfeit cancer medications into U.S. doctors’ offices.

On August 11 the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a November 2014 grand jury indictment (pdf download link) filed against eight individuals and six companies all associated with the Canadian online pharmacy giant, CanadaDrugs.com, according to Pharmaceutical Processing. Among those charged with conspiracy, money laundering and smuggling is a man named Ram Kamath, who until recently was listed as a PharmacyChecker.com executive. Kamath is charged with conspiracy to smuggle goods in the US.

Mr Kamath is alleged to have assisted CanadaDrugs in hiding fake Avastin from the FDA. Courthouse News Service reports: “As to Kamath’s role in the scheme, federal prosecutors claim that when the Food and Drug Administration began investigating CanadaDrugs.com’s distribution of counterfeit versions of the cancer drug Avastin in 2012 Kamath agreed to store the counterfeit drug in his garage while CanadaDrugs shipped its inventory back to the United Kingdom.”

Kamath has been publically affiliated with PharmacyChecker.com since September 2009, when he was added to the Key Management of the organization as an International Pharmacy Advisor.  By July 2010, he had been promoted to Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications of the organization.  He is still listed as their Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications on the company’s social media channels, though the current status of his employment may be in dispute, according to Legitscript’s John Horton.

According to the HHS archives, in 2003 Kamath played a significant role in the ultimately failed attempt to set up a drug importation system in Illinois that bypassed the FDA. Called I-SaveRX, it was a health initiative offered to the public by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. In November of that year, William K. Hubbard, the FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Policy & Planning informed Kamath and his partner Scott McKibbon that although the FDA appreciated the need for Illinois residents to reduce their healthcare costs, “Against these relatively modest savings are important health risks that are either misunderstood or ignored in your report. These risks indicate that there are far better ways to get savings in medical costs for Illinois residents than by turning to a questionable importation scheme.”

When the Illinois auditor General examined the I-SaveRX program in 2006, it found that failed to implement many of the required inspections of online pharmacies.  The program was found to have violated both Federal law governing the safety of pharmaceuticals as well as Illinois state pharmacy law.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kamath is due in court in Missoula, Montana to face the indictment on August 25. If convicted, Kamath faces up to 5 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and 3 years supervised release, according to his indictment.

The indictment is the result of 3 years of investigations into counterfeit drugs, including counterfeit cancer medications that have infiltrated doctors’ clinics and hospitals in the United States. In February 2012, the FDA informed doctors and the public that counterfeit Avastin had been discovered in U.S. doctors’ offices. Ultimately, the FDA sent warning letters to over 100 doctors in 28 states. To learn more about fake cancer medication in this country, please read Black Market Cancer Drug Cases 2007-2013.

By S. Imber