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Doctor Selling Fake Viagra Jailed For Fraud

October 15, 2008

A multi-million dollar plot to sell fake medicines has landed a doctor in jail for three years.

Dr. George Patino plead guilty at Kingston Crown Court for selling thousands of counterfeit impotence tablets to customers via the web.

Known online as the “King of Viagra”, Patino, 48, who is a Mexican national with a US passport, was described a “disgrace to his profession” by the judge. He was also ordered to pay costs and had money confiscated.

As many as 200 Internet orders a day were placed for the fake Viagra tablets.

Patino, last year, stood trial alongside other members of a gang who were convicted of smuggling copies of Viagra and medicines to treat baldness from illegal factories in China, Pakistan and Asia.

A verdict was never reached on Patino and he was due to appear for a retrial, but last week entered a guilty plea to one charge.

According to court records, Patino was in league with the lynchpin of the operation Ashish Halai, 34, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, who was jailed for four-and-a-half years last year.

The fake medicines arrived in brown bottles rather than in the packaging used by manufacturer Pfizer.

The return address on the labels belonged to a Finnish post box number, listed to deliberately conceal the identities of those behind the operation.

The court heard E-mails from disgruntled customers complaining the tablets were fake, with some people saying they had suffered headaches and nausea.

Others complained they had no effect while another said the tablets were coated in blue paint that was coming off.

“As a highly intelligent man you must have been aware of the consequences of the illicit trade in Viagra,” asked Judge Nicholas Price QC.

“You must bear a heavy responsibility for your actions that were driven by greed and a reckless disregard for the effects of your criminality.

“Such conduct from a doctor of medicine goes against all medical ethics and makes you a disgrace within your profession.”

Patino was arrested in October 2005 at Heathrow Airport. He was carrying a laptop and memory stick containing files which revealed his business dealings as he waited for a plane to Leeds.

Also found were more than 2,000 digital photographs depicting or associated with pharmaceutical products.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) prosecuted the case in an operation known as Stormgrand.

“Counterfeit medicines can be dangerous – designed so as to deceive people and healthcare professionals whilst generating vast profits for the counterfeiters,” said Mick Deats, group manager of enforcement at the MHRA.

“The MHRA will not hesitate to use the full range of powers available to investigate and prosecute those who represent a risk to public health.”

Patino was also ordered to pay £50,000 ($86,000USD) in costs, banned from being a company director for 10 years and had a sum of nearly £135,000 ($235,00USD) confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia




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