April 4, 2018: Canadian Pharmacist Sentenced for Distributing Counterfeit and Adulterated Botox to Local Doctors
St. Louis, MO – Nikhil Buhecha, a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, pled guilty today and was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to distribute counterfeit, misbranded, and adulterated Botox® into the United States, including multiple shipments to two doctors located in St. Louis County, Missouri.
According to defendant’s plea agreement, defendant owned and operated a sophisticated wholesale drug distribution business involving multiple persons in Canada, Panama, and Turkey. Defendant sourced Botox® from Turkey and shipped it to multiple U.S. doctors in Missouri and other states. According to the label for Botox® Cosmetic that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unopened vials of Botox® Cosmetic should be stored in a refrigerator at temperatures between 2° to 8° Celsius before dispensing to patients. Defendant’s drugs were adulterated because defendant’s business did not keep the Botox® at constant cold temperatures, and sometimes shipped and stored these drugs with no refrigeration or insulation. Further, some of the Botox® sold by defendant had counterfeit exterior packaging, and the manufacturing lot numbers on the exterior of the drugs’ cartons did not match the lot numbers on the drug vials inside the cartons.
FDA issued several public safety alerts about these events. This ongoing investigation has led to a number of other related prosecutions in the District, including Dr. Erick Falconer, Greg Martin, Ozkan Semizoglu, and Sabahaddin Akman. Two other Canadian nationals were convicted and sentenced under similar charges in August 2015. Kamaldeep Sandhu received a sentence of 24 months of imprisonment, while Navdeep Sandhu received a sentence of 3 months.
“Americans must have confidence that the FDA-regulated products they use are authentic, safe and properly labeled,” said Spencer E. Morrison, Special Agent in Charge, FDA OCI’s Kansas City Field Office. “We remain fully committed to aggressively pursuing those who place unsuspecting U.S. consumers at risk by distributing illegal drugs.”
This case was investigated by FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, with assistance from the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as INTERPOL Washington and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Health Care Fraud