Canadian Internet pharmacy pioneer heads to prison

Andrew Strempler gets 4 years for selling unauthorized drugs in U.S.
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Last year, Internet pharmacy pioneer Andrew J. Strempler was soaking up the sun in the Caribbean. This year it will be a federal prison cell.

According to the Department of Justice, the man who founded RxNorth.com to ship cheap meds to retirees and others in the U.S. has been sentenced to four years in prison. The sentence follows Strempler's guilty plea in October to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He also will forfeit $300,000 and pay a $25,000 fine, the DOJ says. A hearing in February will also determine if he will have to cough up some restitution.

Strempler was arrested in Miami in June on a June 2011 indictment accusing him and his former company RxNorth.com of selling and shipping to U.S. consumers fake and misbranded drugs between early 2005 and the summer of 2006. Strempler sold his company in 2006 to competitor Kris Thorkelson, owner of CanadaDrugs.com, then hightailed it to the Caribbean after U.S. authorities accused him of selling counterfeit medications. Federal authorities are now focused on CanadaDrugs.com and its affiliates.

At least some of the counterfeits of Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin discovered in the U.S. in February are believed to have come from companies tied to CanadaDrugs.com. At the end of December, the FDA also warned 350 medical practices that what they believed was the wrinkle remover Botox was unauthorized and might be counterfeit. The agency said the practices sourced those drugs through companies tied to CanadaDrugs.com.

- here's the DOJ release

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