Operators of So-Called Canadian Pharmacy Sentenced for Distributing Misbranded Prescription Drugs

Last year, we wrote about criminal charges against Billy Lee, Tarn Uppal, and Tony Lee, who operated "Canadian" internet pharmacies but shipped US residents drugs that were not really from Canada. This week, the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations announced sentencing for these British Columbia residents, amounting to three years' probation and a fine of $55,000. Their Barbados-registered company, Quantum Solutions, received a $150,000 fine and was ordered to forfeit $4,235,000.

Despite the Canadian residency of the operators, there was hardly anything Canadian about Quantum. The company bought drugs made for foreign markets from suppliers in Turkey and other non-Canadian countries, and sold the drugs to pharmacists in the US. These drugs were sent to a shipper in the UK, who repackaged them and put misleading labeling on them to make them appear as if they were for the personal use of the recipient. Packages were sent into the US, where they were again repackaged. The drugs were misbranded and sent to the US pharmacists, presumably for resale. Money paid for these drugs traveled not only to Canada, but also offshore to Barbados.

By using websites that supposedly were operated by a real Canadian pharmacy and supposedly dispensed Canadian pharmaceuticals - including canadadrugpharmacy.com, canadianpharmacymeds.com, and canadadrugcenter.com - the operators deceived customers, primarily ones in the US. None of the prescription drugs sold by these websites met FDA approval because they were made and labeled for use outside of the US.

The sentencing comes only weeks after the shutdown of the flagship website of CanadaDrugs, whose operators pleaded guilty in April to selling misbranded and counterfeit prescription drugs in the US, most notably fake cancer medication sourced from outside Canada.

As proponents of the Canadian internet pharmacy sector continue to advocate for the legalization of sales of drugs from "Canadian" and other "international" internet pharmacies into the US, it's important to expose the way in which these internet pharmacies often really work - selling drugs that don't really come from Canada, which increases the safety risk.