Canadian Pharmacy Sells Counterfeit Cancer Drugs to Americans, Continues Business Despite U.S. Prosecution
In December 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that plea agreements were outstanding in cases against CanadaDrugs.com, two subsidiaries, and CEO Kris Thorkelson. The original indictments alleged "CanadaDrugs' business focused on the illegal importation and sale of prescription drugs that had not been approved by the FDA for use in the United States...". This included counterfeit Avastin and other non-FDA approved medications discovered in 2012 by the FDA. Cases are still pending against five other CanadaDrugs.com executives: Thomas Haughton, Ronald Sigurdson, Darren Chalus, Troy Nakamura and James Trueman.
According to the pending plea agreement, Thorkelson will plead guilty to misprision of felony, which means he was aware that a crime was being committed, did not report it to authorities, and actively worked to conceal it from them. Although he could have received a sentence of up to three years, the plea deal calls for Thorkelson to spend six months under house arrest followed by another 54 months under probation and pay a fine of $250,000.
Under a separate plea agreement for CanadaDrugs.com LTD. Partnership, Rockley Ventures LTD., & River East Supplies LTD, all three companies will plead guilty to introduction and delivery of misbranded pharmaceutical drugs. The last two also pleaded guilty to selling and dispensing counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs, but it is not known why CanadaDrugs.com will not as well. The companies will be on probation for five years and must pay a forfeiture of $29,000,000 and a fine of $5,000,000.
All parties have several stipulations in each of their pending pleas. Within 90 days of sentencing, they must cease selling unapproved, misbranded, adulterated or counterfeit drugs in the United States through the internet or otherwise and there is a deadline for the legal transfer of all internet domains to the U.S. government. They are also banned from selling any customer information to any pharmacy based outside the U.S. or to any third-party.
CBC News Manitoba reported that the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba initially pulled Thorkelson’s license in December when the pending plea deals became known, only to quietly reinstate it just a few days later. As of the writing of this piece, CanadaDrugs.com is still in business even with the pending plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. According to a court document, Thorkelson may appear in a Montana courtroom as soon as April 13, 2018 to change his plea and to receive his sentence.