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Intellectual Property Rights

2 Minnesota men indicted for selling and importing counterfeit medications

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Two Twin Cities men were indicted in federal court Wednesday for allegedly selling and importing more than 15,000 counterfeit drugs and mislabeled medications. These indictments resulted from a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A federal grand jury in the District of Minnesota returned an indictment Oct. 7 against Nicholas David Lundsten, 26, of Spring Lake Park, and Patrick James Barron, 29, of Fridley, for allegedly releasing more than 15,000 misbranded drugs to customers. Both men were charged with introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce and importing non-narcotic Schedule IV controlled substances.

The indictment alleges the defendants introduced and delivered 3,600 pills falsely labeled as Cialis®; 1,582 pills falsely labeled as Propetia®; 10,419 pills falsely labeled as Viagra®; and 340 pills falsely labeled as Levitra®. In fact, all the pills contained the active pharmaceutical ingredients of the drugs they imitated, but they were not the authentic product as labeled and were not made by the respective manufacturer. The indictment alleges this occurred from an unknown date through December 2008.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants knowingly imported into the United States 39,288 pills purporting to be Xanax®, a sedative that contains Alprazolam, a non-narcotic Schedule IV controlled substance, and 27,336 pills purporting to be Phentermine®, a weight-loss drug, that contained Sibutramine, another non-narcotic Schedule IV controlled substance, rather than Phentermine.

"ICE makes every effort to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs that enter into U.S. commerce are safe for consumers," said Claude Arnole, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington, Minn. "Importing counterfeit or mislabeled products not only violates U.S. laws and regulations, it threatens our nation's public health and hurts the U.S. economy."

If convicted, the introduction count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and the importation count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. MacLaughlin, District of Minnesota, is prosecuting this case.