A Manitoba man and pioneer in the Internet pharmacy industry was arrested in Miami on charges of selling counterfeit medicines, a report says.
The Wall Street Journal says 38-year-old Andrew Strempler appeared Thursday in a federal court in Miami.
It says he could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the three charges against him, as well as a forfeiture of $95 million.
A Miami Federal court clerk said Friday Strempler had been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, as well as two counts of mail fraud.
The charges date from a period from January 2005 to June 2006, said the clerk.
The Journal quotes a court clerk as saying that Strempler is expected to be arraigned next week.
Strempler is an online pioneer who once ran the Manitoba-based online pharmacy RxNorth. He later began operating as PharmaCheck on an island off the coast of Venezuela.
The report said Strempler’s former company, RxNorth.com, sold and shipped fake and otherwise misbranded drugs to American customers under the false pretense that the products were safe and legal.
It said the sales occurred between early 2005 and the summer of 2006.
This isn’t Strempler’s first run-in with counterfeit drug allegations. In October 2009, Strempler lost his credentials to practice in Manitoba after a three-year probe into allegations he sold counterfeit drugs to the U.S. He was charged with professional misconduct earlier in 2009 by the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association.
The allegations were brought to light after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they had suspicions about Strempler’s Manitoba-based company, saying in August 2006 that lab tests of intercepted shipments found counterfeits of widely prescribed drugs such as Lipitor and Celebrex.
-- Canadian Press, Free Press staff