Businessmen charged with selling counterfeit drugs
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — A suburban New York pharmaceutical company sold more than $17 million in counterfeit, misbranded or unapproved drugs, including for cancer and birth control, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday against the two men in charge of the business.
Great Neck-based Pharmalogical, Inc.’s William Scully, 45, of Commack, and Shahrad Rodi Lameh, 40, of Manhasset, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Central Islip. Bond was set for each at $500,000.
Attorney Peter Tomao, representing Scully, called the accusations an overreach by the government and said, “We are preparing to fight them in court.” An attorney for Lameh didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Authorities accused Scully, the firm’s president, and Lameh, its vice president, of being motivated by greed.
“Instead of seeing an opportunity to alleviate suffering and cure disease, Scully and Lameh saw a chance to make money off the backs of those already fighting for their lives, selling counterfeit cancer medication to an unsuspecting clinic,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in announcing the charges.
According to the indictment, the alleged scheme took place from early 2009 to mid-2013. They are accused of getting drugs from other countries including Turkey, Switzerland and India, and selling them in the United States despite knowing the medications didn’t have the required federal approvals.
Some of the drugs, like intrauterine birth control implant devices, were improperly labeled. Others were foreign versions of drugs that weren’t approved to be used in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration. For example, Rituxan is a drug approved for use in the United States to treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The foreign version, Mabthera, is not.
The drugs were sold to a number of medical services providers around the country, including a cancer center in Carson City, Nev., a surgical practice in Decatur, Texas, and a women’s health care facility in Plattsburgh. The company also does business as Medical Device King.
“The defendants deliberately and repeatedly flouted the laws enacted to protect our citizens, all in order to flood the market with counterfeit and unapproved drugs and medical devices just so they could line their own pockets,” Lynch said.
If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison and forfeiture of their assets, as well as a $250,000 fine.