Kamath pleads not guilty in fake medicines lawsuit

Online pharmacy The defendant in a counterfeit medicines lawsuit linked to the activities of an online Canadian pharmacy has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Ram Kamath - who has been linked to the online pharmacy certification company although the direct nature of his role there is the subject of debate - made the plea this week in front of a court in Missoula, Montana.

The case - which is being heard in front of Judge Jeremiah Lynch - has been brought by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and accuses Kamath along with 13 others of smuggling $78m in mislabelled and counterfeit medicines into the US.

Kamath has been named in the indictment along with the chief executive of, Kristjan Thorkelson, and other defendants, who face a range of charges including smuggling, improper storage, falsifying customs declarations, money laundering and conspiracy.

The other defendants are located outside the US and have not yet been extradited to face the charges. Federal prosecutors have said however that they will seek to extradite Thorkelson and the other defendants from Canada, the UK and Barbados if they do not voluntarily appear, according to court documents. - which has not been indicted by the DoJ - has distanced itself from Kamath, saying he worked as a contractor for the company. The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) maintains however that he was previously the certification company's director of pharmacy policy and international verifications.

According to the indictment, and its affiliates illegally purchased the mis-labelled and counterfeit drugs abroad and then routed them through Egypt and Barbados for sale to doctors in the US.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a long-running federal investigation into Canadian pharmacies linked to the introduction of counterfeit, diverted and unapproved medicines into the US, and comes in the wake of the discovery of counterfeit copies of Roche's cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) and other drugs in the US supply chain.

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