Pharma firm owner pleads guilty to fake cough syrup charges

The owner and president of a Florida-based pharmaceutical company has pleaded guilty to violations related to trafficking of counterfeit medicines and is awaiting sentencing.

Boca Raton, Florida, resident Adam Runsdorf (57) – who headed up Woodfield Pharmaceutical LLC – has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, trafficking in counterfeit drugs, and money laundering conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas court.

He was charged along with the company and six co-defendants of distributing misbranded and counterfeit cough syrup that was sold across multiple US states, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, California, Florida, Arkansas, and Ohio.

Woodfield Pharma was used to produce more than 500,000 pints of counterfeit cough syrup, which was sold at prices generally ranging from $100 to more than $1,000 per one-pint bottle.

"Depending on the market and brand of cough syrup, prices went as high as $3,800 to $4,000 per pint," according to a Department of Justice statement.

Another defendant – Byron Marshall – is accused of overseeing the production operation at the pharma company, communicating directly with Runsdorf. He was instructed to pay Woodfield in cash only, which employees of the company mailed directly to Runsdorf in Boca Raton.

Six co-defendants, including Marshall, have already pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, said the DoJ. Runsdorf faces up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing.

"In April 2014, Actavis Holdco US discontinued production of Actavis cough syrup due to its widespread abuse by recreational drug users," said US Attorney Brit Featherston in a commentary on the case.

"After that, the street value of Actavis increased to more than $3,000 per pint. In his greed, Adam Runsdorf…used his position and connections to enable drug traffickers in Houston to produce thousands of gallons of counterfeit Actavis, labelled to be nearly identical to the discontinued product."

"The conspirators in this case sought to capitalise on the scarcity of Actavis and other prescription cough syrups by marketing counterfeit versions to street-level abusers," added Featherston.

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