Shengyang Zhou, of Yunnan, China, has been given 87 months in federal prison and fined more than $500,000. Zhou pleaded guilty in January to trafficking and importing counterfeit Alli, the weight-loss drug from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). He had identified himself as the manufacturer of the fakes--and had even promised to make the drug more effective--in conversations with undercover agents.
The fine was imposed as restitution to victims. Among them is an ER doctor from Texas who suffered a mild stroke after using the counterfeit. Zhou will be deported to China upon his release from prison, reports the Denver Post.
The FDA had issued alerts concerning the fakes in late 2008 and early 2009. The phony pills contained high levels of the controlled substance Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant used in the Abbott Labs weight-loss treatment, Reductil. Some weight-loss patients had been prescribed Alli because it lacks Sibutramine, which can cause high blood pressure in some people and lead to harmful interactions with other medications.
Internet sales were the primary retail channel involved.
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