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Intellectual Property Rights
05/07/2014

Skin care clinic physician, office manager convicted for illegally importing non-FDA approved chemotherapy, cosmetic drugs to US

WASHINGTON — A physician who owns Aphrodite Advanced Esthetic & Skin Care Clinic in McLean and his office manager were convicted Tuesday by a federal jury on conspiracy charges for their roles in a scheme to illegally import non-FDA approved chemotherapy and cosmetic drugs into the United States. This follows an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington office, the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) Group 33 Diversion Task Force, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The Arlington County Police Department provided assistance.

Anoushirvan Sarraf, 48, of Rockville, was also found guilty of illegal importing, receiving and delivering non-FDA approved drugs and devices, and engaging in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of prescription drugs. In all, Sarraf was convicted of nine felonies and four associated misdemeanors. Eva Montejo Pritchard, 48, also of Rockville, who was the clinic office manager, was convicted of a single felony count for conspiracy.

Sarraf and Pritchard were indicted Jan. 30. Sarraf partnered with Gallant Pharma, an unlicensed wholesale prescription drug distributor, in exchange for a deeply discounted price on non-FDA approved cosmetic drugs and devices. Sarraf used those cosmetic drugs and devices on patients at his McLean clinic without the patients' knowledge or consent.

Sarraf provided Gallant Pharma with his medical license to enable Gallant Pharma to order non-FDA approved chemotherapy and cosmetic drugs from around the world. He allowed those drugs to be smuggled into the United States, addressed to Aphrodite, the name of his clinic. When the drugs arrived, a member of the conspiracy opened the boxes, took what they wanted for Aphrodite and called individuals from Gallant Pharma to retrieve the remainder.

Many of the shipments involved "cold-chain" drugs subject to strict temperature controls, which were not followed by the conspirators. The use of these drugs posed serious potential harm to chemotherapy and cosmetic patients throughout the United States. During the three years the partnership lasted, more than 17,000 vials of pharmaceuticals passed through Aphrodite and were sold by Gallant Pharma for more than $10.3 million.

Sarraf faces a maximum penalty of 87 years in prison, while Pritchard faces up to five years. Both individuals will be sentenced July 18. Eleven other defendants, including the co-founders of Gallant Pharma, were previously convicted for their involvement in the partnership.