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Woman Sentenced for Rebranding, Selling Prohibited Weight Loss Drug from China

OCI BadgeDepartment of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 8, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former Belmont County woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court today for buying illegal weight loss drugs from China to rebrand and resell them for a profit in the United States.
 
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office, announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
 
Crystal Ware, 33, formerly of Shadyside, purchased drugs from China containing Sibutramine and then mislabeled the drugs and sold them at an inflated price. Sibutramine was approved as a treatment for obesity in 1997 but was withdrawn from the U.S. market in October 2010 due to its association with increased strokes and cardiovascular events.
 
In 2015, Ware created the website “www.positivevibespositivelife.com” and registered the trade name “Positive Vibes” in Ohio to promote and sell weight loss products called “Burn, Vibe, Vortex, Slimming V and Fruit Fit” that contained the discontinued Sibutramine.
 
Ware would bulk order the original Sibutramine drugs from China, then relabel and resell them at up to eight times the cost. For example, she purchased 160 bottles of drugs for $5.50 to $10 per bottle from China and resold them for $40 per bottle. Ware received more than $17,000 total from the sale of the misbranded drugs.
 
The FDA Office of Criminal Investigation received information in 2016 that Ware was operating a business that sold weight loss products that contain undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients. FDA laboratory analysis revealed that Ware’s weight loss products contained Sibutramine as an active ingredient.
 
“Distributing foreign prescription drugs of unknown origin and ingredients places U.S. consumers at risk,” said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office. “In this case, the drug had previously been removed from the U.S. market for safety reasons. We will aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who attempt to subvert FDA requirements, which are designed to ensure the safety and quality of drugs distributed to American consumers.”
 
In November 2018, Ware was charged with and pleaded guilty to receiving misbranded drugs in interstate commerce.
 
She was sentenced today to six months of home confinement, three years’ probation and 80 hours of community service.
 
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Marous, who is representing the United States in this case.

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Topic(s):
Prescription Drugs
Component(s):
USAO - Ohio, Southern
Contact:
jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov