FDA Undercover Op Nabs Cancer Drug Smugglers

The FDA led a joint international law enforcement operation that culminated in the arrest of two Turkish citizens on charges that they smuggled adulterated and misbranded prescription cancer treatments from Turkey and other countries into the United States and conspired to defraud the United States and the U.S. FDA.

The drugs included non-FDA-approved versions of Roche Holding's Avastin and Rituxan, according to a copy of the indictment.

The defendants 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,” “documents,” or “product samples” with no or low-declared monetary values. They also broke large drug shipments into several smaller packages to reduce the likelihood of seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the two men, Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman of Istanbul, Turkey, were arrested and charged after selling some of their products to an undercover wholesale drug-distribution company set up by FDA investigators in St. Louis County, Mo.

Read the FDA announcement

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