DENVER – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – College Pharmacy, a Colorado Springs based pharmacy, its owner, a sales representative, and a sales representative from a company in Houston, Texas, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver for the illegal importation and distribution of hGH, human growth hormone, from China, United States Attorney Troy A. Eid announced. THOMAS BADER, age 63, who owned and operated the pharmacy, and KEVIN HENRY, age 56, a College Pharmacy sales representative, were arrested yesterday without incident by Special Agents of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Also charged was BRADLEY BLUM, age 36, of Houston, Texas. BLUM was a sales representative for a company facilitating the illegal importation of hGH from China. BADER and HENRY made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court today.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly bought, received and distributed Chinese manufactured human growth hormone (hGH), which had not been approved by the FDA. Once the growth hormone was received in the United States, the defendants allegedly repackaged the product and sold it to physicians and their patients throughout the country. The indictment also alleges that the defendants were aware that the Chinese manufactured hGH was misbranded and unapproved for distribution and use in the United States.
The FDA through provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) limits the use of Human growth hormone (hGH), also known as somatropin, to the treatment of a disease or other recognized medical condition that has been authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition, the FDA has never approved the distribution or use of any hGH manufactured in or imported from China.
THOMAS BADER was a licensed pharmacist in the State of Colorado, and was the owner, operator and officer of COLLEGE PHARMACY, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. BADER employed KEVIN HENRY, who functioned as a sales representative for the pharmacy. HENRY was responsible for finding sources of drugs, including hGH, and also for selling and marketing products distributed by COLLEGE PHARMACY.
According to the indictment, among the drugs distributed by BADER through COLLEGE PHARMACY was hGH. The indictment alleges that both defendants knowingly bought the hGH from companies that manufacture genetically derived hGH in China, including GeneScience.
After the drug was imported into the United States, BADER allegedly directed his employees to repackage the Chinese hGH into vials labeled COLLEGE PHARMACY, including boxes and information. The indictment states that between September 2004 and March 2007, BADER advertised and marketed hGH and distributed the product by delivering it using various interstate carriers.
BADER is charged with one count of conspiracy, ten counts of mail fraud, four counts of distribution of human growth hormone, one count of sale or facilitating the sale of smuggled goods, and one count of asset forfeiture.
HENRY is charged with one count of conspiracy, ten counts of mail fraud, four counts of distribution of human growth hormone, and one count of asset forfeiture.
BLUM is charged with four counts of distribution of human growth hormone, one count of sale of facilitating the sale of smuggled goods, and one count of asset forfeiture.
The corporation COLLEGE PHARMACY is also charged in all eighteen counts of the indictment.
The penalty for conspiracy as well as the penalty for the distribution of human growth hormone is not more than 5 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine. The penalty for mail fraud as well as receiving smuggled goods and facilitating the sale of smuggled goods is not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
The indictment also includes an asset forfeiture count. Among the assets that are the subject of the forfeiture count are approximately $4,100,000 in cash, and real property, including the pharmacy, a property in Iowa, properties in North Carolina, several properties in Florida, as well as properties in Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, and Denver.
“Our drug-trafficking prosecutions here in Colorado are increasingly international, especially when illicit pharmaceuticals are involved,” said U.S. Attorney Troy Eid. “Asia is an especially attractive source for drug smugglers. These can be complex and expensive investigations, but cases like College Pharmacy show we won’t hesitate to meet this new challenge.”
“The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations takes very seriously the investigation and ultimate prosecution of those who endanger the public by selling unapproved and illegal drugs. The safety of these drugs is questionable at best, and the defendants placed profits ahead of public safety by selling potentially harmful substances,” said Larry Sperl, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations would like to thank the US Attorney’s Office for their diligence and support in pursuing this case.”
This case was investigated by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jaime Pena and Gregory Rhodes. The Asset Forfeiture issues are being coordinated by Assistant United States Attorney James Russell.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.