Indian-American couple pleads guilty to selling fake drugs in US

Washington: An Indian-American couple has pleaded guilty to charges of selling counterfeit prescription drugs manufactured in India to customers in the United States.

Nita Patel, 47, and her husband, Harshad, 53, an Indian national, entered their pleas before US District Judge Joseph E. Irenas in Camden, Monday.

The Patels each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing was set for August 23.

In February 2009, the FBI became aware that Nita Patel was offering generic forms of patented pharmaceutical products for sale over the Internet, United States Attorney Paul J Fishman said.

When contacted by an undercover officer in July 2009, authorities said, Nita Patel provided a price list of products that included “generic” Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, each of which is a patent-protected erectile dysfunction drug made in the US.

Over a period of seven months, she and her husband negotiated four separate sales of more than 300,000 tablets of counterfeit drugs, including the erectile dysfunction drugs, as well as generic versions of Abilify, a drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; the anti-depressant Lexapro; and Plavix, an anti-coagulant.

All of the drugs were shipped from a business in India, where a third defendant, Moloy Ghosh, 31, lived and worked before he was arrested with the Patels in the United States in April 2010. Ghosh pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Had the drugs sold to the undercover officer been authentic, they would have had a wholesale acquisition cost of more than $2.5 million. By Arun Kumar