Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2014
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
Contact: Angela Dodge
Public Affairs Officer
HOUSTON - Mohammad Jamal Rashid, 45, has been ordered to prison for conspiracy to illegal importation and traffic in counterfeit and misbranded Viagra® and Cialis,® and receiving and delivering misbranded drugs, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Resident Agent in Charge Tommy R. Hennesy from the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI). Rashid pleaded guilty Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.
Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Rashid a total sentence of 27 months in federal prison for both counts of conviction. A non-U.S. citizen, he is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
In arriving at the sentence, Judge Hittner noted the serious risks posed by the illegal importation of counterfeit prescription medications, Rashid's direct and personal role in having the drugs sent to his home as well as the results of testing done on the drugs Rashid received. Specifically, it was noted that the Viagra® tablets contained less active ingredient than what was printed on the label. In addition, the Cialis® tablets did not contain any of its active ingredient, but rather the active ingredient of Viagra.® Judge Hittner also noted that the counterfeit and misbranded drugs Rashid imported looked like the authentic product. Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a drug is considered misbranded when it does not contain the information written on its packaging and labeling. A drug is considered counterfeit when it, or its container or labelling, bears trademarks without the authority of the registered trademark holder.
"This conviction is the culmination of a multi-agency effort to prevent the smuggling and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals into the United States," said Moskowitz. "Intellectual property (IP) related crimes such as this one help remind us of the potential public safety hazards posed by IP thieves who care more about profits than people."
Rashid, a legal permanent resident originally from Pakistan and residing in Houston, admitted he conspired to illegally import counterfeit and misbranded Viagra® and Cialis® to his home in Houston under a false name and with a false declaration waybill. A total of 3,200 counterfeit Viagra® and 4,000 counterfeit Cialis® were sent to the defendant's home from China in open foil blister packs without packaging or labels.
Although the drugs sent to Rashid looked authentic, testing conducted by the FDA, Pfizer and Eli Lilly confirmed the drugs were not authentic and were in fact counterfeit and misbranded. The tablets had inconsistencies in physical appearance and packaging. Additionally, the counterfeit Viagra® had less of Pfizer's active pharmaceutical ingredient than the 100 mg stated on the foil pack, while the counterfeit Cialis® did not contain any of Eli Lilly's active pharmaceutical ingredient.
"Distributing counterfeit and misbranded drugs puts the health of the public at risk," said Hennesy. "The FDA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect unsuspecting consumers from unsafe and illegal products."
Rashid will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation into Rashid was conducted by HSI and FDA-OCI. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.