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Intellectual Property Rights
09/12/2013

Florida man sentenced for operating online San Diego-based pharmacy that sold unapproved, misbranded oncology drugs

SAN DIEGO — A Florida man was sentenced in federal court Thursday for operating an illicit pharmaceutical scheme out of his home that sold more than $7 million worth of unapproved and misbranded oncology drugs at a substantial discount to doctors in the United States through a San Diego pharmacy.

Martin Paul Bean, III, 63, of Boca Raton, Fla., was ordered to serve 24 months in federal custody after pleading guilty in February to conspiracy to commit a number of federal offenses, including wire fraud, mail fraud, selling unapproved drugs, selling misbranded drugs and importing merchandise contrary to law. Bean was also ordered to forfeit a Jaguar he purchased with illicit proceeds and to pay more than $19,000 in restitution to one of his victims.

The sentencing is a result of a two-year investigation conducted by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations, with assistance from the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspections Service.

"This defendant blithely put the public's health at risk so he could line his own pockets," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "This sentence should serve as reminder about the potential consequences facing those who deal in imposter drugs with no regard for the dangers they pose to patients and consumers. HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners here and abroad to prevent the distribution of counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceuticals."

As part of this guilty plea, Bean admitted that between Feb. 24, 2005 and Oct. 30, 2011, he operated the Global RX Store from his residence in Florida and sold millions of dollars of prescription oncology drugs to doctors throughout the U.S. Bean ordered the unapproved drugs from foreign sources in Turkey, India and Pakistan and sold the drugs to doctors in the U.S. at substantially discounted prices.

According to the court records, Bean directed the bulk shipments of the unapproved drugs to be sent to Oberlin Medical Supply, a wholesale pharmacy in San Diego. Co-conspirators at Oberlin Medical Supply repackaged the drugs and shipped individual orders to specific doctors in the U.S. Invoices from the wholesale pharmacy in San Diego were included in the orders, which helped create the false and misleading appearance that the drugs were approved for use in the United States. Bean and his co-conspirators also operated a call center in Winnipeg, Canada, using toll free numbers where orders from the doctors in the U.S. were accepted by telephone, fax and email.

The investigation began in early 2010 after law enforcement authorities from the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory agency advised U.S. authorities they had intercepted a shipment of an unapproved form of an oncology drug sent from a company in Pakistan to Oberlin Medical Supply in San Diego. At that time, the only approved manufacturing site for the drug to be sold in the U.S. was in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In addition to Bean, the owner of Oberlin Medical Supply was also charged in the case. Maher Idriss, 52, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to conspiracy to illegally import merchandise. At the time of his guilty plea, Idriss admitted that, between 2006 and 2011, he conspired with the owners and operators of Global Rx Store to import and distribute medication (primarily oncology drugs) not intended for sale in the United States. After receiving payment from the doctors, Idriss wire transferred payments to the foreign sources and to an account in Canada controlled by Bean and his co-conspirators. Idriss is scheduled to be sentenced before District Judge Hayes on Oct. 21.

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