Yet ANOTHER CIPA- and PharmacyChecker-certified internet pharmacy criminally charged for selling bad, non-Canadian medicines

Yet another supposedly “Canadian” internet pharmacy certified by PharmacyChecker and the “Canadian” International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) has been criminally charged with conspiracy to sell unapproved, misbranded drugs and money laundering. According to the DOJ’s press release, the drugs were not really from Canada.

This morning, the US Department of Justice announced criminal charges (see the charges here) against Tony Lee, Billy Lee, Tarn Uppal, and a company called Quantum Solutions. The first three are Canadian residents, and Quantum is a corporation registered in Barbados. According to the court filings, among the websites operated by this allegedly criminal network are the following. As of this writing, they were either Pharmacy-Checker approved, CIPA-approved, or both.

I went through the remaining websites named in the court documents, which all appeared to redirect to the main seven websites above. (Directmedglobal.com is offline right now, but was online a few days ago, as far as I could tell.)

So what’s the big deal — the website names, such as “Canadian Pharmacy Meds” indicate that they are Canadian internet pharmacies, and they are approved by these two “credible” organizations, and aren’t Tony Lee, Billy Lee, and Tarn Uppal all Canadian?

Here’s how it worked, according to the US Department of Justice’s press release.

  • Quantum, operated by the three Canadians, bought drugs made for foreign markets from suppliers in Turkey and other countries, and sold the drugs to pharmacists in the US.
  • The 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.
  • The packages were sent into the US, where they were again repackaged.
  • The drugs were misbranded and sent to the US pharmacists, presumably for resale.
  • The money paid for these drugs traveled not only to Canada, but offshore to Barbados.

Yet all of these websites, in one way or another, hide behind a maple leaf, misleading US residents to believe that the drugs they are selling, in some way, are “Canadian.” They aren’t. And PharmacyChecker and CIPA, through their certification programs, continue to help these and other internet pharmacies perpetrate that fiction. (PharmacyChecker, I suppose in some weird way to its credit, does disclose that the drugs are from “Australia, India, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, United Kingdom” for canadadrugstop.com, but inexplicably says that the primary pharmacy is “Withheld at Member’s Request.” In what universe does a pharmacy have the right to hide where it’s sending medicines from, and why does PharmacyChecker help them keep it a secret?)

Why do CIPA- and PharmacyChecker-approved websites market themselves as “Canadian” but ship medicines — sometimes unapproved, adulterated, or counterfeit ones — from elsewhere? Simple: it improves their profit margin to get lower-priced, substandard drugs from non-Canadian locations, but deceives US residents into believing that they are getting the same drugs a Canadian resident would.

At this point, it’s worth a retrospective to highlight a few of the online pharmacies that PharmacyChecker (and in some cases below, CIPA) have approved.

Oh, and of course, we can’t forget that one of PharmacyChecker’s own directors got indicted for hiding counterfeit drugs supplied by CanadaDrugs in his garage. (The charges were dismissed, reportedly after the guy cut a deal with DOJ.)

Do these certification programs do their job of helping convey to US residents which online pharmacies operate legally and safely? While the criminal charges pile up, you be the judge.

 

  • Trond Hanssen

    This is a Catch 21 for most pharmacies and here´s why.
    Why can’t overseas pharmacies just obtain foreign licenses to avoid being blacklisted, then? Because, at least in the case of U.S. sales, that would mean they could only dispense medicines sourced within the U.S. from the manufacturer, at the world’s highest prices. In other words, it is literally impossible

    • Foreign-made drugs are often fine, actually, and often cheaper. No objection here, assuming nothing illegal or unsafe otherwise. For the US (all other countries I know of have similar requirements) it has to be an FDA-inspected facility and the drugs need to follow the approved supply chain, but it’s fine for them to be made overseas — that’s pretty common. I think the problem with saying, “As long as they have a foreign license, they are fine” is that there’s no good way jurisdictionally to enforce safety requirements, and also no great way to ensure that they drugs really come through that pharmacy. It’s a pretty standard requirement worldwide to require domestic pharmacy registration or licensure — not as if the US is out of step by having that requirement.

      • Frank White

        well i am looking for a legit company as i just found out i will have to spend about 375 per month for a new medication. not available as generic. it is an inhaled med so i wont trust lightly as fake meds could kill quickly or leave me worse off than my own idiocy for having to take medicine. thanks for your article. i caught it just in time.

    • But honestly, the idea that we have to go to Canada for cheaper meds is often moot. Why? Because if you look at medicine dispensed in the US, 85% of all prescriptions are generic-filled. And generics are often the same or cheaper in the US than they are in Canada.

  • But honestly, the idea that we have to go to Canada for cheaper meds is often moot. Why? Because if you look at medicine dispensed in the US, 85% of all prescriptions are generic-filled. And generics are often the same or cheaper in the US than they are in Canada.

    One example the Partnership for Safe Medicines researched is Crestor. The generic is 20 cents cheaper in the us, even after converting the Canadian dollar to US dollars. It’s by no means the only example.

    http://www.safemedicines.org/2017/03/you-can-lower-your-cholesterol-and-healthcare-cost-with-generic-crestor.html

    One you start to realize that many, many drugs are the same or cheaper in America than Canada, the risk of getting a counterfeit because you did business with someone pretending to be Canadian becomes silly. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f07c4ade4e7f44a3b4a49d53a0bb7ff720028614bad4b0483b15071b52adc980.png