United Drug admits fault for delivering $1.4m of cancer drugs to European hotels
Drugs were illegally imported to US by pharmacy owner’s wife
Robin Simon, whose husband owns a chemist shop in Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty in the US last week to illegally importing the cancer drug Xeloda scores of times between 2000 and 2007.
United Drug, the listed pharmaceuticals supplier, admitted yesterday it was at fault for delivering $1.4 million (€1.05 million) of cancer drugs to hotels in Europe which were picked up by a US pharmacy owner’s wife, who illegally imported them back to the US for sale in her husband’s store.
Robin Simon, whose husband owns a chemist shop in Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty in the US last week to illegally importing the cancer drug Xeloda scores of times between 2000 and 2007. Xeloda was for sale in Europe for roughly a third of its US price, and her husband could sell the drug at his pharmacy for a huge mark-up.
The court heard Ms Simon would travel to Europe “five or six times” a year, and stay at hotels to wait for United Drug’s wholesaling unit to deliver her a consignment. On one occasion, in Lisbon in 2007, a hotel maid found discarded drug packaging and called police.
Portuguese police launched an investigation, followed by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Irish Medicines Board, which contacted United Drug. Ms Simon’s husband has not been charged.
United Drug yesterday told The Irish Times the transactions “should not have happened” and it co-operated with the IMB and FDA. The IMB was not available for comment.
United Drug said it previously operated a business called United Drug Commercial, which acted as an exporter globally. It closed the unit down after the IMB/FDA investigations were launched.
“United Drug acknowledges that it should never have delivered wholesale orders to addresses other than the registered address of the approved trade customer, the subject of this case,” the company said.