The U.S. Department of Justice announced that a plea agreement is in place for Sean Gerson and his business Vaccination Services. Both pleaded guilty to smuggling, introduction into interstate commerce misbranded animal prescription drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a misdemeanor charge of distribution and sale of an unregistered pesticide. Gerson ran the scheme for 15 years and netted at least $2.5 million. The plea agreement stipulates a 30-month sentence for Gerson and a $200,000.00 fine.
According to court documents, the misbranded drug Gerson sold was Comfortis, an anti-flea medication designed for the South African market. Comfortis is not approved for distribution in the U.S. and federal law prohibits the importation and sale of veterinary medicines not approved for use in the country by both the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Gerson operated multiple websites, including fleastuff.com, mydoghasfleas.xyz and fleaandtickstuff.com, selling animal medicines without requiring a valid prescription.
In the plea agreement, Gerson admitted having, “knowingly distributed, transported and sold the prescription animal drugs Comfortis and Ciprofloxacin in interstate commerce” to an undercover law enforcement officer in Missouri in August 2016. He knew at that time that the drug was smuggled ““because the drugs were foreign-market branded and not approved by the U.S. FDA for entry into the United States.” Gerson also admitted to selling foreign market animal flea and tick products not approved for sale and distribution in the U.S. to an undercover law enforcement officer in Washington in June 2012.
Judge R. Gary Klausner will sentence Gerson and his company on December 11, 2017. In addition to a prison sentence and criminal fine, Gerson agreed to forfeit $2.5 million in proceeds from his long-running scheme. Investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and EPA all contributed to making this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns is prosecuting.
If you are looking to purchase your pet’s medications online, it is important to purchase them from a verified retailer. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy launched the .pharmacy domain earlier this year and there are multiple veterinary pharmacies to choose from on the list.