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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Nov. 5, 2012

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Distributor of Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Drugs Sent to Federal Prison

HOUSTON - Shane Lance, 41, of Archdale, N.C., has been sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to distribute counterfeit pharmaceuticals and trafficking in pharmaceuticals bearing false labeling and counterfeit trademarks, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. 

The investigation and prosecution of Lance revealed he received and distributed throughout the United States counterfeit Viagra and Cialis he received from a company based in China that utilized web address www.hardtofindrx.com to advertise and sell counterfeit pharmaceuticals. 

Viagra and Cialis are prescription drugs that are FDA approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Viagra is manufactured and distributed exclusively by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, while Cialis is manufactured and distributed exclusively by Eli Lilly. Viagra and Cialis are registered trademarks on the principal register in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The investigation, which began in March 2011, disclosed that www.hardtofindrx.com offered pharmaceutical drugs such as Viagra and Cialis on its website at prices substantially lower than the retail value for a Viagra and Cialis tablet. Beginning in March 2011 and continuing through August 2011, agents purchased Viagra and Cialis pharmaceutical drugs from the website and later received shipments containing the Viagra and Cialis from a sender located on the 200 block of Irbywood Street in High Point, N.C. Although Viagra and Cialis are drugs which can only be obtained after obtaining a prescription from a physician, the individuals operating the website did not request or require a prescription prior to send the Viagra and Cialis to undercover agents. In July 2011, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents assigned to a field office in Houston were notified by HSI agents in Winston-Salem, N.C., that video surveillance cameras at a United States Postal facility had recorded an individual who mailed several packages using the Irbywood address.

After the receipt of Viagra and Cialis pharmaceutical drugs, agents forwarded samples of the tablets to the trademark holders Pfizer and Eli Lilly and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Forensic Chemistry Center for analysis. The tablets were determined to be counterfeit. Upon obtaining still photographs from the Postal facility, agents were able to identify Lance as the individual who shipped the counterfeit Viagra and Cialis.

Lance pleaded guilty and today, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore handed him a 10-month-term of imprisonment, with five months to be served as home confinement. He was further ordered to pay $5,100 to trademark holder Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for investigative costs. 

This case was investigated by HSI and FDA - Office of Criminal Investigations. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Louis.