St. Louis, MO – George Patino, 57, of Houston, Texas, was convicted by a jury on Wednesday after a three-day trial of conspiracy, distributing Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) for unauthorized medical purposes, and smuggling.
According to Court documents, under federal law, doctors can lawfully prescribe HGH for several narrow medical uses, for example to patients with wasting diseases associated with AIDS or Prader-Willi syndrome. HGH cannot be prescribed to help patients with body-building, anti-aging, or weight loss treatments. From April 2014 through June 2015, the evidence showed at trial that Mr. Patino sent numerous packages of HGH to a local St. Louis, Missouri doctor and many local patients. The local patients receiving the HGH hoped to increase their energy, strength, endurance, and athletic ability. The HGH smuggled here to Missouri by Mr. Patino was misbranded in that the drugs’ dosage and use instructions were in Spanish not English, and the drugs came from a Korean drug manufacturer that has not been approved by the U.S. Government to sell this drug in the United States.
A local doctor, Dr. Michael “Ted” Mimlitz, previously pled guilty in this same investigation to providing misbranded HGH drugs to numerous local patients who were experiencing a lack of energy, decreases in strength or endurance, or decreased athletic ability.
Mr. Patino now faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for his conspiracy conviction, ten years in prison for his HGH distribution conviction, and twenty years in prison for the smuggling conviction, and/or fines up to $250,000 for each count. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
“For drugs that enter the U.S. from outside the FDA-regulated distribution system, there is no guarantee that the drugs are safe and effective for patients to use,” said Special Agent in Charge, Spencer Morrison, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City Field Office. “We will continue to work to protect the health of patients who rely on prescription drugs and to ensure the safety and effectiveness of those drugs.”
This case was investigated by the Office of Criminal Investigation for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.