With the sentencing of a second man from Turkey, federal authorities have essentially brought to a close a case stemming from the appearance in the U.S. of counterfeit and unapproved cancer drugs. The drugs were sold to wholesalers and physician practices throughout the U.S., in some cases making patients ill.
Sabahhadin Akman was sentenced by a federal court to 30 months in prison and a $150,000 fine. Akman was the owner of Turkish company Ozay Pharmaceuticals and along with his business partner, Ozkan Semizoglu, was accused of using false documents to smuggle the drugs into the U.S. from Turkey. Semizoglu was sentenced in October to 27 months in prison on similar charges.
The unapproved drugs first showed up in the U.S. supply chain in 2011. They included Altuzan, the version of Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin, that is made for the Turkish market but unapproved for use in the U.S. Some were tracked back to James Newcomb of La Jolla, CA, who pleaded guilty to charges that he shipped foreign versions of prescription drugs to doctors around the U.S. With help from companies in Canada and the U.K., Newcomb offered the drugs to U.S. doctors at discounts of 14% to 60% off their usual wholesale prices.
Documents in the case said some of the drugs the two men shipped to the U.S. turned out to be counterfeit. Two cancer patients in Arizona had "immediate and bad reactions" to this Altuzan, according to court documents. In some cases, federal authorities charged and got guilty pleas from physician practices they said knew, or should have known, the drugs were unapproved.
- here's the release