News and Press Releases

Churchill Man Sentenced for Unlawfully Selling Drug Samples

February 21, 2014

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to six months imprisonment, six months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, and forfeiture of $56,000, on his conviction of unlawfully selling drug samples, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon imposed the sentence on Lawrence A. Swanson, 54.

According to the information presented to the court, from in and around January 2005, to in and around May 2011, Swanson sold prescription drug samples such as samples of Allegra, Avalide, Avapro, Avelox, Benicar, Celebrex, Crestor, Cymbalta, Diovan, Diovan HCT, Evista, Janumet, Januvia, Lexapro, Lovaza, Lyrica, Micardis HCT, Namenda, Nexium, Plavix, Prevacid, Prilosec, Seroquel XR, Singular, TriCor, Vytorin, Zetia, Zyprexa, Benicar, Lipitor, and Pristi Q, to two local pharmacists. Those pharmacists were separately charged. Swanson met his supplier in various grocery store parking lots late at night to receive garbage bags filled with the samples. The samples had the lot numbers and expiration dates removed from the pill packaging making it impossible to know if the drugs had expired or had been recalled. There was a possibility of harm to patients, but no harm or injury to any patient was ever reported. Over the time period charged, Swanson collected a total of $181,108.07.

Judge Bissoon stated that engaging in the black market sale of sample drugs is a serious crime that threatens the integrity of our medicine distribution system, and in order to deter others and to properly punish this defendant a jail sentence is necessary.

Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Lawrence A. Swanson.

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