Friday, March 27, 2009

Dallas Man Convicted for Distributing Counterfeit Drugs: Viagra, Cialis, Levitra

Richard Fletcher, 57, of Dallas Texas has been convicted of distributing counterfeit drugs and trafficking in pharmaceuticals bearing false labeling and counterfeit trademarks.

He used the Internet to obtain and distribute counterfeit versions of Viagra®, Cialis® and Levitra® pharmaceutical drugs. These drugs are used to treat erectile dysfunction. Their patents are held by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, and Bayer Corporation respectively.

Fletcher offered the medication over the internet at a discounted price of $1 - $1.40 a tablet. This rate was far below the normal retail price of $11 - $13 a tablet.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, began an investigation in October 2007. Undercover ICE agents posing as customers purchase prescriptions through his website between February and June of 2008. The drugs were later analyzed by the trademark holders and the FDA's Forensic Chemistry Center, and determined to be counterfeit. Also found during the investigation was proof that Fletcher purchased the counterfeits from China and engaged in discussions with Chinese individuals on how to evade detection and seizure of the product.

During this time, agents were also contacted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who had seized 960 Viagra tablets in package addressed to Fletcher at a mail facility in California. The counterfeit Viagra and Cialis tablets obtained as a result of the investigation are valued at more than $46,000.

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