FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         CIV
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1997                           (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A New Jersey drug firm, Flavine
International Inc., has been fined a total of $925,000 and its
owner, Gerd Weithase, a German national, has been sentenced to
two years in prison and fined a total of $75,000 for illegally
importing counterfeit pharmaceuticals from China and laundering
money in a kickback scheme, the Department of Justice announced

     Weithase had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas
City, Missouri, to conspiracy related to counterfeit
pharmaceutical products and also pleaded guilty to a one-count
information charging him with conspiring to launder money in a
kickback scheme.  Flavine International pleaded guilty to two
informations, one charging it with conspiracy related to
counterfeit pharmaceutical products and the second charging it
with conspiracy related to the money laundering scheme.  They
were sentenced Wednesday.  Flavine was headquartered in Closter,
N.J., and maintained offices in Kansas City.

     The investigation was conducted by the United States Customs
Service and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).     

     Assistant Attorney General Frank W. Hunger of the Civil
Division and Stephen L. Hill Jr., U.S. Attorney in Kansas City,
praised the work of the investigators and prosecutors in the

     Hunger said, "The counterfeit case stems from the
exploitation of antibiotic drug manufacturing which was uncovered
in an investigation by the Customs Service and FDA." 

     Hill said, "This is egregious misconduct by a corporation,
and the government's prosecution of those involved should send a
strong signal that counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals will be
vigorously prosecuted." 

     The investigation revealed that on numerous occasions from
August 1985 through November 1991, Weithase solicited and
received orders from drug manufacturers in the United States for
bulk antibiotics that are FDA approved for use in the United
States.  The drugs included oxytetracycline, gentamicin sulfate,
and sulfamethazine.  

     To fill these orders, Weithase bought drugs overseas that
were manufactured by various Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturers
whose products were not approved for use in the United States. 
Weithase and others then imported the unapproved drugs into the
United States declaring them to be the product of an approved
Chinese manufacturer.  Weithase directed customs brokers to
present invoices to Customs and FDA that falsely stated that the
drugs had been made by an FDA-approved manufacturer. 
     Once the unapproved product arrived in the United States,
the defendants, when necessary, had the product repacked in new
containers that more closely resembled those of the approved
manufacturer.  Weithase removed labels from containers and
affixed fraudulent labels to containers in order to falsify the
origin and manufacturer of the drug product.  

     Weithase also replaced the manufacturers' certificates of
analysis with fraudulent certificates of analysis that falsely
claimed that the drugs were made by an approved manufacturer. 
These acts were performed without the authorization of the
approved manufacturer whose name was used.

     In the money laundering scheme, Weithase and his company,
between February 1991 and May 1993, paid a total of $82,680 in
kickbacks to a purchasing agent who worked for one of Flavine's
customer firms.

     The case was prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney's
office in Kansas City and the Department's Office of Consumer
Litigation in Washington, D.C.