April 12, 2017: Former Medical Product Distributor Charged with False Statements about Hormone Shipments
BIRMINGHAM – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a former Homewood medical product distributor for falsely stating to a U.S. postal inspector that packages of human pregnancy hormone shipped to him from China contained cosmetics he ordered as a gift for his wife. Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, and Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigation, Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Justin Green announced the charge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a one-count information charging ALFRED LAMOUREUX JR., 45, of Columbiana, with making a false statement to the federal government on May 9, 2016. In conjunction with the charge, prosecutors also filed a plea agreement with Lamoureux. According to the documents, Lamoureux told a postal inspector that two packages he ordered from China contained cosmetics for his wife, when Lamoureaux knew the packages contained vials of injectable human chorionic gonadotropin and he intended to sell the HCG as a means for weight loss, a use not approved by the FDA that can have harmful consequences.
HCG is a hormone produced by the human placenta and found in the urine of pregnant women. FDA has approved HCG-containing drugs, but only for treatment in select cases of female infertility and hormone treatment in men, according to the information and plea agreement. FDA-approved HCG products are available only in injection form and require a valid medical prescription.
There are no FDA-approved HCG products intended for weight loss and the agency has published notices stating that current scientific evidence does not support the claim that HCG is safe and effective for weight loss or treatment of obesity, according to the court documents.
FDA has received reports of serious adverse events associated with HCG injections for weight loss, including cases of pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest, and death, according to the documents.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Birmingham intercepted a package on Nov. 4, 2015, that originated in China and was addressed to Lamoureux at a Hoover address. On May 4, 2016, the Postal Inspection Service detained a package originating in China and addressed to Lamoureux at a Columbiana address. Both packages were declared as cosmetics, but both contained 80 vials of HCG for injection, according to the documents. Since HCG is not FDA-approved for weight loss, the hormone would not have been allowed into the country.
On May 9, 2016, Lamoureux called the Columbiana Post Office to inquire about a lost package, and in a subsequent conversation with a postal inspector made his false statements about the May and November packages being presents for his wife.
Lamoureux operated Phoenix Meds Inc. in Homewood from 2012 to 2015 selling medical products, including injectable and oral products, according to his plea agreement. In January 2015, the Alabama Board of Pharmacy revoked Phoenix Meds’ manufacturer/wholesaler/distributor permit for ordering and receiving drugs from an entity that did not have permits from the pharmacy board. The board also cited claims on the business’ website that HCG was “important in weight control” when the FDA had declared it unlawful to sell the drug for that purpose, the plea agreement states.
Lamoureux then formed another company, Perdido Key Health and Wellness Inc. in Perdido Key, Fla. In January 2016, the Florida licensing board issued notice of intent to deny the new business’ applications for a prescription drug wholesaler permit and product registration because Lamoureux provided false information about the Alabama pharmacy board’s disciplinary action against Phoenix Meds, according to the plea agreement.
The maximum penalty for making a false statement to the government is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Postal Inspection Service and FDA-OCI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Chinelo Dike-Minor is prosecuting.