According to an FDA press release, Sabahaddin Akman, owner of Ozay Pharmaceuticals, Istanbul, Turkey, has pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling misbranded and adulterated cancer treatment drugs into the United States.
Akman pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he initially shipped his illegal drugs. The drugs did not meet the FDA’s standards and had not been approved for distribution in the United States, the release said.
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations coordinated a complex 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 the cancer treatment drug Avastin.
“These criminals exploited our most vulnerable patients when they arranged for their illicit drugs to be brought into the United States and used to treat cancer patients. We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who prey on our ill, susceptible patients,” said Philip J. Walsky, acting director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “We commend our colleagues – international, national, state, and local – whose contributions helped bring this case to a successful conclusion.”
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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities. Read the full release