The American Cancer Society has estimated that approximately 1,665,540 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2014. With new treatment options available, a majority of these cases will see positive results. But what if the treatment they are receiving is illegal? What if the treatment they are receiving does not meet FDA standards? Two men have been arrested after smuggling these types of illegal drugs into the United States.
Two men that work for Ozay Pharma were charged with importing foreign-made cancer drugs that are not approved for sale by the U.S. Food and Administration. These drugs are not approved because they are not made in FDA-inspected facilities or packaged in FDA-approved packaging. Companies such as Ozay Pharma have reached out to some U.S. doctors who administer cancer treatments to patients and sell them these illegal, foreign-made drugs because they are often cheaper than the FDA-approved versions available in the U.S. Although several doctors have been imprisoned for these purchases in recent years, the company has been smuggling illegal foreign-made drugs to the U.S. since at least 2010.
Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman of Istanbul, Turkey were arrested by federal agents in Puerto Rico in January and are currently in detention in Missouri awaiting trial. The men were arrested after selling some of their products to an undercover wholesale drug-distribution company set up by FDA investigators in St. Louis County, Mo. The FDA said they established this firm in 2013 and bought several different shipments of cancer drugs from the defendants. The shipments they received were hazardous and illegal. Some of the shipments had counterfeit packaging, while other shipments failed to keep the drugs at the cool temperatures required to keep them in good condition.
The defendants labeled the packages as “gifts” in an effort to evade U.S. customs inspectors. In January, undercover FDA agents asked the defendants to travel to Puerto Rico for a meeting. When the defendants arrived at the meeting place, they were arrested. The men have been charged with distributing illegal prescription drugs in the U.S. Both of the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment hearing in federal court this past Thursday. None of the drugs received by the FDA had made it to any doctors’ offices.
Wall Street Journal, Arrests in Cancer Drug Sales, Jeanne Whalen, 2/15/14