Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
July 11, 2013: English Citizen Sentenced for Distributing Adulterated and Counterfeit Cancer Drugs
St. Louis, MO - RICHARD J. TAYLOR of Warwickshire, England, was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment and a fine of $800,000 for distributing adulterated prescription drugs used for cancer treatment to multiple physicians in the United States, including Town and Country, Missouri, oncologist Abid Nisar.
According to his plea agreement, during 2008-2011, Taylor distributed prescription drugs used for cancer treatment from the United Kingdom to physicians located in the United States. One of his customers was Dr. Abid Nisar of Town and Country, MO. To be safe and effective, some of these prescription drugs distributed by Taylor needed to be shipped and stored at constant cold temperatures, and should not have been shaken or frozen. While distributing these prescription drugs, Taylor learned that multiple doctors in the United States had received shipments of "cold chain" cancer prescription drugs that were warm upon arrival and damaged during shipment, but still kept shipping adulterated drugs to the United States. Taylor’s illegal drug shipments included an October 2010 shipment of the cancer drug marketed in the United States as Rituxan® that was sent to Dr. Nisar’s local medical office.
Taylor’s plea agreement also discusses his involvement with importing a counterfeit cancer drug. Taylor admitted that he and others imported Altuzan, an intravenous cancer treatment drug marketed in Turkey that contains the same active ingredient as the drug marketed in the United States as Avastin® into the United States. Taylor and others believed that the drug was “a high risk play with the Turkish labeling and packaging.” On May 10, 2011, Taylor was notified that “we had an unfortunate experience” after an oncology nurse of a U.S. doctor reported that two patients had “immediate bad reactions” during infusions of Altuzan. One of these patients “who has been on Avastin for awhile started to shake in the middle of being transfused and had to be disconnected from treatment.” The nurse advised that she had been administering Avastin for years and never had a patient reaction like this before. Ultimately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) seized packages marked “altuzan” from several of Taylor’s customers in the United States and tested the substances, determining that Taylor’s customers had received counterfeit versions of Altuzan that did not contain any of the active drug ingredient bevacizumab that is found in legitimate versions of Altuzan and Avastin®. FDA previously warned multiple doctors in the United States about the dangers of counterfeit altuzan with a public safety alert that can be found on the agency’s website, www.fda.gov.
Taylor also agreed to forfeit his interest in approximately $3.2 million dollars, some of which was seized during the investigation at a bank in the United Kingdom.
This sentence aptly reflects the serious nature of this crime," said Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Holland of FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, Kansas City Field Office. "Americans must have confidence that their health care providers are receiving and administering drugs that fully comply with U.S. laws. The FDA will aggressively pursue all those who seek to profit from causing the importation and distribution of foreign drugs that are adulterated and misbranded."
This case was investigated by the Office of Criminal Investigation for the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Health and Human Services.