CanadaDrugs.com Indictment Exposes Fake Drug Sales, PharmacyChecker Role

Unlike PharmacyChecker, LegitScript prohibits our employees from storing counterfeit meds in their garages.

Money laundering. Customs forms falsifications. Conspiring with a supposedly “impartial” Internet pharmacy certification program to sell fake cancer medicines to unsuspecting doctors and clinics — and then giving that certification program’s employee an all-expenses paid trip to a tropical island. Sound like the plot of a John Grisham novel? In fact, it’s straight from a fascinating, deeply disturbing federal indictment unsealed last week by the US Department of Justice against CanadaDrugs, several of its employees, and a current or former employee (or possibly contractor) of PharmacyChecker, a supposedly “independent” US-based Internet pharmacy verification program.

Indicted along with CanadaDrugs and several of its principals is Dr. Ram Kamath, the “Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications” for PharmacyChecker. Allegedly, Dr. Kamath certified CanadaDrugs as safe and legitimate after accepting money and a paid trip from CanadaDrugs to Barbados despite being aware that the company was using an illegal and unsafe drug supply chain (and having just hid some of CanadaDrugs’ counterfeit drugs in his garage).

At the core of this indictment is CanadaDrugs’ alleged sale of counterfeit Avastin, a prescription-only medicine, to doctors and clinics in the US — information that was originally known three years ago. But the indictment pulls the curtain back on the way in which PharmacyChecker apparently conspires with illegal online pharmacies to, in the words of the indictment, provide a (false) “veneer of legitimacy.”

PharmacyChecker, in its blog this week, threw every excuse it could find at the problem. The company’s argument appears to boil down to a couple of points. First, PharmacyChecker argues, CanadaDrugs was only selling counterfeit drugs through its wholesale distribution system (to doctors and clinics), not directly to patients — so, therefore, its online pharmacy is still legitimate and safe. (Oh, okay.) This ignores the point that CanadaDrugs is using the same unapproved, illegal supply chains for its entire business — and the drugs aren’t really coming from Canada in most cases, as PharmacyChecker full-well knows. PharmacyChecker’s second point trots out the tired old argument that this is all a huge conspiracy led by Big Pharma. (Right … so, Big Pharma planted the counterfeit drugs in Dr. Kamath’s garage, then?) 

At any rate, there are 10 important takeaways, in my view, from the indictment.

Ten Important Take-Aways: CanadaDrugs / PharmacyChecker Employee Indictment

1. When they sell to US residents, Canadian Internet pharmacies aren’t really selling drugs from Canada. The indictment indicates that CanadaDrugs was not really shipping drugs from its Canadian pharmacy. Rather, it was routing drugs that originated in Turkey and other locations through the UK and Barbados to US drop-shippers. The fake drugs were traced back to Egypt.

2. The medicines were fake. The cancer medicines were fake, and contained no active ingredient. 

3. Cold-chain drugs were stored at too-warm temperatures, returned and then resold to other customers in their adulterated state. Some drugs, like insulin, must be kept at a certain (cold) temperature. Even when the cold-chain drugs — not really from Canada — exceeded that temperature during the illegal shipping process and should have been discarded for safety reasons, CanadaDrugs simply re-refrigerated them to resell to another customer.

4. CanadaDrugs was raking in the profits from the sale of drugs, including counterfeits, to US residents. The indictment states that CanadaDrugs was making roughly $20 million a year from selling unsafe drugs to US residents.

5. After it became aware of the FDA investigation, CanadaDrugs took steps to cover up its counterfeit drug sales, moving the drugs offshore, and continued selling illegal drugs to US residents. CanadaDrugs knowingly tried to evade US law enforcement.

6. CanadaDrugs knowingly engaged in illegal activity, putting patients at risk. CanadaDrugs knowingly sold counterfeit, misbranded and/or unapproved drugs to US patients — not just Avastin — for years.

7. The Canadian International Pharmacy Association certifies Canadian online pharmacies — and is run, in part, by CanadaDrugs. CIPA “certifies” Canadian pharmacies shipping to US residents as legitimate, including canadadrugs.com. Its seal is relied upon by millions. But it is not an independent certification organization: according to the Canadian corporation database, its six directors include Brock Gunter Smith, the Chief Business Development Officer for CanadaDrugs. Five out of six of the other CIPA board members work for a similarly illegal online pharmacy that is CIPA approved, meaning that CIPA is bootstrapped — run by the very online pharmacies it purports to certify.

8. CanadaDrugs lied, and falsified US Customs records to smuggle illegal drugs into the US. CanadaDrugs claimed that it “worked closely” with the FDA and Customs to ensure that drug importation was conducted legally and safely. That was a lie. No such coordination occurred, and CanadaDrugs falsified Customs records to smuggle illegal drugs into the US.

9. A PharmacyChecker employee helped store the counterfeit drugs in his garage. Ram Kamath, “Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications” for PharmacyChecker, allegedly helped store the counterfeit cancer medicine in his garage, and was indicted as a co-conspirator.

10. PharmacyChecker approved CanadaDrugs as legitimate despite knowing that CanadaDrugs used an illegal and unsafe supply chain. Just weeks after Dr. Kamath stored the counterfeit drugs in his garage, he accepted from CanadaDrugs an all-expenses paid trip to Barbados, where he “inspected” CanadaDrugs’ warehouse and thereafter certified the company as a legitimate online pharmacy, despite being aware of the counterfeit drug problems.

  • tmaca

    FinLLY

    BULLCRAP!!!!!

    I wonder what Legitscript’s connection to the US Pharmaceutical industry is? They’re certainly helping that industry to use a completely non-relevant indictment to frighten US consumers, which is part of a long standing, well funded campaign by the US pharmaceutical industry to prevent US consumers from
    buying medications outside of the US, from countries where drugs are price controlled, cutting into the US industry’s profits.

    First, Canadadrugs IS NOT a rogue pharmacy. They do not sell prescription drugs to anyone without first receiving a legitimate prescription. They have NEVER sold ANY counterfeit drug to any consumer. They provide discounts over US prices by purchasing the drugs in places where they are price controlled, such as Great Britain and Australia. But they are the exact same drugs, made by the exact same manufacturers.

    This is the TRUE story of that indictment: The main company has 2 different, and separate, branches. One purchases drugs and rtesells them to consumers. That is the retail branch, and the indictment had nothing at all to do with them. The other branch purhases drugs and resells them wholesale to hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, etc. That branch unknowingly received fake cancer drugs from one of its suppliers, and resold them to medical businesses. NOT to any consumers. The counterfeit drugs entered the supply chain way before Canadadrugs was involved. Perhaps they should have been in some way more careful in checking quality of drugs rwceived from their suppliers. but they had nothing to do with creating, and no knowledge of, countrerfeit drugs. And these driugs were sold ONLY through the wholesale branch, only to places like hospitals and clinics, and NOT to any individual consumers. And the retail branch, which sells to individuals, had absolutely no involvement in the matter, and was not even indicted, or an unindicted
    co-conspirator, or anything.

    However, the US pharmaceutical industry, which has for years been trying to stop US citizens from buying drugs outside the US, jumped on this as a chance to “prove” that buying drugs outside the US, even from a long-established Canadian pharmacy, is dangerous. They somehoe forget to mention that not one single prescription sold to an indicvidual consumer anywhere was counterfeit, and forget to mention that the counterfeiting happened a ways back up the supply chain, Canadadrugs knew nothing about it, and it only happened insidw the wholesale, not the retail, branch. And people like the Wall Street Jouirnal published FDA quotes about receiving tons of complaints from US consumers about drugs ordered online, including completely fake drugs. But they forgot to mention, in an article about the Canadadrugs indictment, that NONE of the consumer complaints about fake drugs were about Canadadrugs. An honest oversight? Or an oversight influenced by Big Pharma’s anti-foreign purchase campaign?

    Understand, buying drugs online IS risky. There is a thriving counterfeit market, they have professsional looking websites, they even manufacture counterfeit drugs that look identical to the real thing, and put then in packaging trhat is identical to the genuine article. And because Canada has become known as a source fo cheaper drugs, many hbave “Canada” or “Canadian” in the name, even when they’tre actually in, for example, Rumania.

    But it is not hard to buy safely, because there are all sorts of giveaways you can use to spot a phony “pharmacy”. First, if they offer prescription drugs without first receiving an actual precription from your doctor, they’re completely illegal and the chances that anything they sell is legitimate are terribly small. Next is the location. Most phont drigs today come from Mexico and Eastern Europe. Look at their actual URL. If the “pharmacy” is claiming to be in Canada, but the server is in Czechoslovakia, don’t waste your money. Personally, I wouldn’t buy any drug from anyone in Eastern Europe even if they’re up front about where they are. Finally.price. If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t true. Even drugs sourced through price controlled countries like Great Britain, while costing substantially less than in the US, are not going to br dirt cheap. For example, Walmart sells 30 5mg Cialis tablets for $280.88, or about $9.36 per tablet. Canadadrugs sells 84 5mg Cialis for $366.24, or about .$4.36 per tablet. Someone called secure.best-pills.net offers 30 5mg Cialis for $32.77, or about $1.09 per pill. Want to guess which of those 3 is almost certainly a counterfeit? Next, claims of generic drugs. There are NO generic versions of many popular drugs, bexcause rthe original manufacturer has a patent, and until the patent expires it is illegal to make a generic version, but many ciunterfeiters will offer a generic version of a drug in order to keep you from wondering how rgey could possibly sell a $25 pill for fifty cents. Before buying any “generic” drug, make sure there really is a generic version of that drug on the market. If you aren’t sure, just call a local pharmacy and ask if there is any such thing as a generic “whatever it is”.

    Finally, before buying any drug online. check with an online pharmacy verification service, like pharmacychecker.com.

    In spite of the scare tactics of Big Pharma, such as this article, and despite the FDA’s desire to control the world, you CAN buy drugs safely online, and save a lot of money doing it. You just have to realize that there are lots of crooks out there, and use some sensible precautions.

  • tmaca

    Yes. And Canadadrugs heads my personal list. But see Pharmacychecker.com to find legit pharmacies. Also see my comment about this half-phony “article” to find out what is really going on here.

    • Chad

      Canada Drugs is literally first on the list of trusted online pharmacies from the website you gave

      • tmaca

        Pharmacychecker has a whole list of standards a pharmacy needs to meet, things like being legally licensed, selling people drugs, if the person’s own country requires a prescripti9n, only after receiving a prescription from a doctor, etc. The only “standard” they do not care about, unlike Legitsceript, is whether or not the U.S. FDA has specifically approved them. The fact is that all modern nations have something like our FDA, and they only have jurisdiction over pharmacies that are within their own nartions. Our FDA wants to claim jurisdiction over ALL drugs and pharmacies, puting them right in line with what US Big Pharma wants.

        • Linda Conway

          I’m trying to decide from where to order my non-critical meds. What is your relation to canadadrugs.com? You make a compelling argument against the article, so thank you for that!

    • Jim Bill

      Pharmacychecker.com appears to be in cahoots with them. I need heart medicine for an arrythmia; I cannot take a chance. Back to US pharmacies for the time being until I can find another supplier. And I’m charging-back my Amex bill. Sorry. Can’t risk it.

  • tmaca

    They ARE NOT illegal. Except in the sense that the US FDA claims nobody can sell any drugs to anyone in the us WITHOUT GOING THROUGH A COMPLICATED, EXPENSIVE, PROCESS, EVEN IF THEY’RE SELLING THE EXct same drugs, from the exact same makers, that “approved” US operations are selling.

  • tmaca

    NOT true. Drugs sold to US consumers come from the same sources as drugs sold in Canada. The phony drugs hting ONLY applied to the wholesale dicvision, which is separate feom the retain division, and sells to hospitals, clinics, etc. See my comment explaining the actual truth about this indictment.

  • tmaca

    They are NOT in any way an illegal operation. And this is the big Legitscript secret. Anyone who hasn’t gone through the FDA’s own approval process is listed as Rogue, even when they’re completely licensed in their home country, have always sold legitimate drugs, and only sell prescription drugs to people whose doctors send in a prescription. Any fully license pharmacy that’s based and licensed in, say, Canada or Great Britain, and probably also Australia and any number of other First World nations, which only sells prescription drugs to people who have prescription for somehting which, in the patient’s home country, requires one can be trusted. But if they haven’t wasted the time and money to go thorugh our FDA, Legitscript calls them Rogue, even when there is no indication of them doing anyhting actually wrong. Canadadrugs’ ONLY “wrongdoing” has been when their wholesale division (which has nothing to do with the drugs sold to individuals) was itself victimized a couple years ago when one of its suppliers sold it counterfeit cancer drugs that had managed to get into the drug suply chain way before the level of Canadadrugs itself. And Legitscript knows good and well that this had nothing to do with drugs soild to consumers. Which is why I wonder about Legitsript’s connection to the American pharmaceutical industry, which has been trying for years to prevent Americans from getting drugs from outside the US and cutting into their profits. I strongly suspect that Legitscript is, in some way or another, a child of American Big Pharma.

  • tmaca

    First, NO Canadaddugs employee “stored counterfeit drugs in their garge”. One guy, a Dr. Kamath, not a Canadadrugs employee but an independent contractor who had worked as a consultant at times to Pharmacychecker, rcceived and held some Avastatin (presumably counterfeit) sent to him by an “unindicted third party”, which were then retrieved by that same third party.
    That headline accusatiuon here is just as generalized and designed to imply criminhswl behavior as are the rest of them.

    • Parvez MD Gondal

      Yes. They do send the drugs without prescriptions. I ordered and they shipped to me. I am an MD.

  • Rabbit Pellets

    Thank you for the link above as it lends more legitimacy to Canadadrugs.com, not less, since it indeed lists canadadrugs as licensed and says nothing negative whatsoever. Working for hours to try and differentiate legitimate from bogus claims I found the following. The New York Times and AARP both cited http://www.cipa.com as the site for identifying legitimate Canadian pharmacies. I then verified that half a dozen pharmacies listed in PharmacyChecker.com also appeared in cipa.com. That is, I now have 3 Canadian websites and two highly credible US institutions in agreement on a list of legitimate pharmacies. The only outlier here, disapproving of all and claiming some are “Rogue Pharmacies” is this site, legitscript.com. Conclusion: The primary objection that legitscript has with these Canadian pharmacies is that Americans shop at them – hardly useful information to an American who is quite deliberately and thoughtfully intending to do just that – the FDA be damned. Meaning that the only illegitimate party in this discussion is legitscript, the self appointed protector of the American consumer from himself.

  • mikeb1959

    I’ve bought drugs from Canada Drugs and they were legit.After them trying to sell me on generic pills and wasn’t satisfied with them.I was given a refund and i sent them back to the UK.

  • Erin Harris

    CanadaDrugsUnited.com is a terrible company. After a month and a half of the run around and not getting in touch with my doctor they now suddenly no longer accept credit cards. What a scam. I hope they don’t steal my identity now that they have my information.