Online pharmacy Canada Drugs, under indictment for selling millions of dollars worth of fake and misbranded cancer medications to U.S. medical offices, still retains its license to operate from the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba, according to CBC’s Karen Pauls. Despite accusations from U.S. federal prosecutors for allegedly selling $78 million of unapproved, misbranded and counterfeit drugs to US doctors, the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba admits to only observing the extradition court proceedings. The College of Pharmacists warn that “CanadaDrugs.com has two licenses” one through them and another through Health Canada.
The Health Canada license was suspending in 2014, but reinstated in 2016 following an inspection.
Ms. Pauls spoke with Samuel Louis, the former deputy chief of the Program Fraud group for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Southern District of Texas, and current Partnership for Safe Medicines board member, about the Canada Drugs counterfeit cancer drugs case.
Noting that the extradition arrests of Thorkelson and other Canada Drugs executives is a “big step forward,” Mr. Louis remarked how important it is that Canadian authorities are taking the charges against Canada Drugs seriously. “It’s important for the Department of Justice, FDA and other law enforcement officials who are involved in protecting our drug supply chain to be able to use whatever means possible particularly the extradition process to be able to hold those individuals accountable.”
Mr. Louis also made the point that such actions demonstrate U.S. prosecutors’ resolve to see justice done. “It sends a strong message that the U.S. is vigilant and that it will be successful and can bring those to justice who will use the Internet or use facilities outside the U.S. to traffic in counterfeit drugs that will hurt the American public.”
Former Thorkelson partner, Winnipeg pharmacist Daren Jorgenson questions the slack regulation of internet pharmacies in Canada and warns that the medicines coming from Canadian internet pharmacies are unsafe. “Is Canada a safe haven for online counterfeit pharmacists shipping into the U.S.? Do we want to be known as that?” he asked. He abandoned the internet pharmacy business, the CBC reports, because the drug supply chain was not secure and safe. “Basically, all my competition started selling drugs they were sourcing overseas from, in my opinion, unsafe countries and marketing them as Canadian. I couldn’t compete with that.”
Now his former business partner Kris Thorkelson, as well as Thomas Haughton, Ronald Sigurdson, Darren Chalus, Troy Nakamura, and James Trueman along with a laundry list of limited liability companies face conspiracy, smuggling and money-laundering charges for their role in the 2012 counterfeit Avastin distribution case. If convicted, each individual faces up to 20 years in prison and millions in fines. An eighth individual, Narinder Kaulder, is currently fighting extradition from the United Kingdom on identical charges.
Click here to learn more about how Canada Drugs’ alleged sale of counterfeit cancer drugs ensnared doctors, medical professionals, and unwitting patients all over the United States.