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Pharmacist faces counterfeit drug charges

A Chicago pharmacist has been suspended pending an investigation into charges that he sold counterfeit versions of erectile dysfunction drugs. The prescription drugs, including Viagra and Cialis, were allegedly distributed through Belmont Pharmacy from December 2010 to August 2012, according to indictment documents. The man is charged with purchasing the drugs from China and then distributing them through his privately held pharmacy.

The store's pharmaceutical permits were revoked in November 2012, but the business is reportedly still functioning as a nutrition and supplement provider, according to local news reports. The defendant's operator's license as a pharmacist has also been suspended pending the results of the investigation.

The store's 36-year-old owner was formally charged with violating FDA provisions, drug trafficking and smuggling. His indictment, filed last week by a federal grand jury, included a total of 15 charges. Maximum penalties in the case could include a total of 50 years' prison time, along with nearly $5 million in fines.

Courtroom documents show that the indictment alleges that the man purchased the drugs in April 2011 and May 2012. Investigators believe that the drugs were shipped to the pharmacy in incorrectly labeled containers that identified them as pens rather than pharmaceutical products. According to investigators, the drugs were reportedly hidden in plastic containers beneath the writing utensils.

Criminal defense attorneys can help the defendant in this case by fully explaining the implications of the charges he faces. They can then work together to determine whether the man should plead guilty or not guilty, according to his preference and information available for the defense attorneys. Defense teams can help protect the rights of criminal defendants in these types of cases. They also provide valuable legal education to their clients.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Pharmacist charged with selling counterfeit Viagra," April 18, 2013

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