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Bill takes on drug counterfeiters

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., introduces legislation March 11 to beef up penalties to deter counterfeiting of prescription and nonprescription drugs. Under the Counterfeit Drug Prevention Act of 2009, H.R. 1450, counterfeit manufacturers and complicit wholesalers would face up to 20 years in prison or, in the event a fake product results in a consumer's death, a life sentence. Rogers says sales of counterfeit drugs by 2010 are expected to reach $75 billion, more than 10 percent of global pharmaceutical sales. Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals' CEO was sentenced to 50 months in prison for counterfeit drug charges (1"The Tan Sheet" Feb. 9, 2009, In Brief)

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Jared R. Wheat is ordered to serve 50 months in federal prison and must forfeit $3 million gained through the production and marketing of counterfeit drugs - including Xanax, Vioxx and Viagra - with other executives from Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. Company founder and CEO Wheat, along with his co-conspirators, established a drug manufacturing facility in rural Belize that "complied with none of the sanitary, hygienic or quality-control regulations issued by the FDA," and subsequently sold unauthorized drugs online without a prescription, the Department of Justice says in a Feb. 3 release. Judge Jack T. Camp of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia also places the Norcross, Ga.-based supplement firm on five years' probation. A separate case in which Hi-Tech was charged with making false and misleading claims about its supplement products did not play into the criminal prosecution (1"The Tan Sheet" Aug. 25, 2008, p. 7)

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