U.S. officials moved this week to shut down websites owned by Canada Drugs, the Internet pharmacy and drug wholesaler that distributed counterfeit Avastin to U.S. doctors last year, the latest in a crackdown on the international gray market for pharmaceuticals.
The decade-old Canada Drugs has prospered by filling millions of prescriptions for American customers with cheaper, price-controlled drugs from Canada and around the world. But the case of the fake Avastin, a cancer treatment, has ratcheted up pressure to rein in a once-bustling business of cross-border pharmaceutical sales, long opposed by the drug industry but popular with some American customers seeking discounted medicine.
The Wall Street Journal reported in July that Canada Drugs and its founder, Kris Thorkelson, operated drug wholesalers, including Montana Health Care Solutions, that sold cancer treatments from India, Turkey and other countries directly to U.S. doctors, who administer the drugs. Mr. Thorkelson's employees have acknowledged that they shipped the fake versions of Avastin, a Roche Holding AG brand name, to doctors last year. But they say they did not know the drugs were counterfeit.