A second senior executive has pleaded guilty to involvement in a scam involving counterfeit animal health product labels and packaging in the US.
Michael Chihwen Wang, 49, admitted directing the manufacture of counterfeit labels for Frontline, Frontline Plus and other Merial brand veterinary product labels between July 2915 and December 2016. Last month, the chief executive of Action Packing and Design - Paul S. Rodriguez Jr – also entered a guilty plea in the case.
Wang was the vice president of CYU Lithographics, operating as Choice Lithographics in Buena Park, California, and arranged for the fake labels and packaging to be printed and shipped to a warehouse facility in Houston, where they were intercepted by enforcement officers as part of an undercover operation.
No actual counterfeit medicine was produced by counterfeiters, but illicitly reproducing the trademarks of another company is of course trademark infringement.
US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt has set sentencing for July 24, at which time Wang faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a possible $2m fine. He has been permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing. Sentencing is of Rodriguez is currently set for October 2, when he will face the same maximum penalties.
The Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
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.