Owner of Turkish wholesaler pleads guilty in fake Avastin case

FDA badgeThe owner of Turkish wholesaler Ozay Pharmaceuticals has pleaded guilty to smuggling misbranded and adulterated cancer drugs into the US.

Sabahaddin Akman pleaded guilty in a district court in St. Louis, Missouri, where he initially shipped the illegal drugs, which did not meet the FDA’s standards and had not been approved for distribution in the US.

The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) coordinated a complex, multi-layered international investigation that led to Akman’s arrest in Puerto Rico in January 2014. The investigation identified Akman and his company as a source of Altuzan, the Turkish version of Roche's cancer treatment Avastin (bevacizumab).

"These criminals exploited our most vulnerable patients when they arranged for their illicit drugs to be brought into the US and used to treat cancer patients," said Philip Walsky, acting director of the OCI.

"We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who prey on our ill, susceptible patients."

Akman, along with his employee, Ozkan Semizoglu, obtained the illicit drugs and then used shipping labels to conceal the illegal nature of the shipments, including customs declarations falsely describing the contents as gifts.

They also broke large drug shipments into several smaller packages to reduce the likelihood of seizures by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities.

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