The chief executive of a packaging contractor in the US has admitted selling counterfeit animal health product labels and packaging in a federal court.
48-year-old California resident Paul S. Rodriguez Jr – who was in charge of Santa Ana, California-based company Action Packing and Design – pleaded guilty to intentionally trafficking in counterfeit labels and packaging for anti-parasite products and veterinary medicines between July 2015 and December 2016.
His operation produced counterfeit artwork for flea control products Frontline and Frontline Plus sold by Merial, an animal health company located in Duluth, Georgia, as well as other Merial veterinary products. The Department of Justice also notes that Rodriguez trafficked in counterfeit trademarked Rimadyl labels, a veterinary painkiller marketed by Zoetis, a pharma company based in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Sentencing is currently set for October 2 before US District Judge Nancy Atlas, at which time Rodriguez faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $2m fine, says the DoJ.
The $17bn global veterinary medicines market is currently "reeling under threat from the availability of low quality counterfeit products", according to Transparency Market Research, which is nevertheless expecting strong growth and a value of $26.7bn by 2024.
Merial provides the following advice to help consumers check whether their Frontline products are genuine:
1) Check the lot number/expiration date on the retail carton matches the lot number on the applicator package and/or the individual applicators.
2) Determine whether the instruction leaflet is included. It provides the following information: first-aid statements, including emergency US or related Merial branch telephone numbers; precautionary statements for humans and pets; directions for use; Frontline Plus from Merial usually has an adhesive calendar sticker with instructions for use and phone number. Treatment frequency is printed behind the front panel. Visual aids and instructions are also included.
3) The pesticide is contained in an applicator package, which is child-resistant.
4) Text on the package is in English only. There should be no stickers on the package. Related country's approval numbers and phone numbers are printed on the box.
5) Once you open the applicator package, each individual applicator has a label that includes the registrant's name "Merial;" the product name; "CAUTION", "Keep out of reach of children", "For animal treatment only"; Composition of active ingredient(s) (fipronil for Frontline Top Spot products; and fipronil and (S)-methoprene for Frontline Plus products). Text is in English. Note that for Merial Frontline Plus*: Applicator itself has the lot number and expiration date printed in the front.