HOUSTON, TX - A licensed pharmacist convicted in May 2006 of conspiracy to introduce into interstate commerce counterfeit and misbranded Cialis and Viagra from Chinawas sentenced to prison, United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle announced today.
James George, 50, a licensed pharmacist and owner of Lifeway Pharmacy formerly located in San Jacinto, Texas, was sentenced to two years in federal prison, without parole, by United States District Judge Melinda Harmon at a hearing held on Friday, September 22, 2006. George, who has been free on bond, was permitted to remain on bond pending an order to voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined.
George was convicted by a jury’s verdict in May 2006 following a two-day trial during which the United States proved that in November 2004, George had ordered counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceuticals from China via the internet and arranged for the drugs to be shipped to him at his home on Concord Falls Lane in Sugarland, TX.
The investigation that lead to George’s indictment began on November 5, 2004, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspectors at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport examined a large package that had arrived from China with shipping documents identifying its contents as health food. Inspectors found that contrary to its label, the package contained large quantities of the pharmaceutical drugs known as Viagra and Cialis. ICE special agents assigned to the airport were notified of the discovery and continued the investigation.
Suspecting the pharmaceutical drugs were counterfeit, ICE agents notified Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Viagra, to verify the authenticity of the drugs. Checking the lot numbers, Pfizer confirmed the drugs were counterfeit. Eli Lily, the manufacturer of Cialis, also confirmed the Cialis tablets were counterfeit.
Through the combined efforts of special agents of the ICE and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from Dallas and Houston, the investigation ultimately determined that James George, a licensed pharmacist in Houston, Texas had ordered the counterfeit drugs using the internet. Agents also determined that George was the owner of LIFEWAY PHARMACY, which was located on the 1300 block of Holland Ave, Suite D, in San Jacinto, Texas.
In December 2004, after contacting George by telephone and making arrangements to deliver the package to George at his pharmacy, Special Agents with the FDA, posing as delivery personnel, made a controlled delivery of the package containing 1,000 counterfeit Cialis tabliets and over 4,500 counterfeit Viagra tablets to George.
The investigation showed that George had ordered the Cialis tablets, which have a wholesale price of $9.55 per tablet, for 30 cents per tablet. George paid 35 cents for each of the Viagra tablets, which have an average wholesale price of $13.55 per tablet.
The investigation leading to the charges against George is the result of the investigative efforts of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices in Dallas and Houston, Texas and the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations in Dallas, Austin and Houston, Texas and the invaluable assistance of Pfizer and Eli Lilly pharmaceutical companies. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel J. Louis and Stuart Burns.