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Intellectual Property Rights
11/15/2010

Chinese counterfeit drug distributor sentenced to prison

bottles of Viagra
bottles of Viagra

HOUSTON - A man from China was sentenced on Monday to 12 months and a day in prison for conspiring to distribute counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and trafficking in pharmaceuticals with false labeling and counterfeit trademarks. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations.

Kum Leung Chow, aka Lawrence Chow, 59, pleaded guilty to the federal charges on June 28 and sentenced on Monday to 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. Chow was arrested on Jan. 27 and has been in federal custody since that date and will remain in custody to serve out his sentence. Chow is subject to deportation after he completes his sentence.

The ICE HSI investigation began in January 2009 and revealed that Chow used a Hong Kong-based company named Kingdom International Enterprises LTD to obtain and distribute counterfeit Viagra and Cialis pharmaceutical drugs in the United States. Viagra and Cialis are prescription drugs that are FDA-approved and used to treat erectile dysfunction. They are registered trademarks on the principal register in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Viagra is manufactured and distributed exclusively by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, while Cialis is manufactured and distributed exclusively by Eli Lilly.

Chow offered boxes containing four Viagra tablets and boxes containing eight Cialis tablets for $10 a box on two Internet websites. The retail cost for each Viagra tablet is about $20, while each Cialis tablet is about $15.20. Working in an undercover capacity, ICE agents purchased about 1,120 Viagra tablets and about 360 Cialis tablets from Chow via the Internet on March 25, 2009, and April 28, 2009. Shipping documents accompanying the pharmaceuticals indicated they were exported from mainland China and Hong Kong.

The pharmaceuticals were later analyzed by the trademark holders and the FDA Forensic Chemistry Center which indicated the pharmaceuticals were counterfeit. These counterfeit pharmaceutical products may have harmed the public if law enforcement were not involved in monitoring the Internet.

Chow has been in federal custody since he was arrested Jan. 27; he will remain in custody to serve out his sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Louis, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.