August 30, 2018: Massachusetts Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Misbranded Prescription Horse Drugs
CONCORD - Darren B. Stratton, 45, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute misbranded prescription animal drugs, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from January 2017 through September 2017, defendant Stratton worked at Horsemen’s Tack, Inc. in Newton, New Hampshire. Among the products Stratton sold to certain customers were equine drugs that were not accompanied by the required prescriptions. Sales of these drugs defrauded and misled the company’s drug suppliers, federal and state regulators, and the general public.
Although the website for Horsemen's Tack indicated that the business had a "vet on call," in fact there was no vet on call. Instead, Horsemen's Tack had a long-standing relationship with a veterinarian licensed in New Hampshire. Stratton regularly used the veterinarian's name and license to order prescription animal drugs from mail-order pharmacies even though the veterinarian never visited the Newton store, did not examine horses or meet with horse owners, and provided no actual veterinary services. During the conspiracy Stratton and Horsemen’s Tack marketed, sold, and distributed numerous drugs for performance-enhancement in racehorses, including levothyroxine, estrone, amikacin, methocarbamol, dexamethasone, tranexamic acid, and erythropoietin/EPO, without lawful prescriptions and without required labels. On September 20, 2017, federal agents executed a search warrant at Horsemen's Tack and recovered a customer list, prescription drugs, and numerous vials with labels printed on-site.
Stratton is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2018.
“When prescription drugs are sold unlawfully, they can end up in the wrong hands or be used for illicit purposes,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “We will continue to work closely with the FDA to protect the public by enforcing the laws related to prescription drugs.”
“Prescription veterinary drugs should be dispensed only upon a valid prescription by a licensed veterinarian, and it must bear accurate and true information on the labeling,” said Jeffrey J. Ebersole, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ New York Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who attempt to evade the FDA’s protections of animal welfare and jeopardize the health and safety of animals.”
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Davis.