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Pharmacist James Quinn faces charges in counterfeit drugs trial

by News team

Suspended pharmacist James Quinn, aged 69, of Virginia Water, Surrey, is one of five men alleged to have been knowingly involved in the importation and distribution of counterfeit medicines in the UK.

In a trial that got under way at Croydon Crown Court this week, prosecutor Andrew Marshall said that the case is considered to represent the most serious breach of the medicines control regime within the EU.

Discovery of the fake batches of Plavix (clopidogrel), Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Casodex (bicalutamide) in 2007 led to class I medicines recalls (PJ, 2 June 2007, p635 and 9 June 2007, p661). It was the first known incidence of counterfeit medicines reaching the UK supply chain through parallel imports.

The men are accused of conspiring together and with others to defraud pharmaceutical wholesalers, pharmacists, members of the public and holders of intellectual property rights in pharmaceuticals between 1 January 2006 and 30 June 2007.

All five men are also accused of selling or supplying Casodex and Plavix without a marketing authorisation and of selling or distributing counterfeit Casodex and Plavix.

Four of them (not including Mr Quinn) are accused of selling or supplying Zyprexa without a marketing authorisation and of selling or distributing counterfeit Zyprexa.

The case has been brought following an investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The alleged conspiracy involved bringing counterfeit medicines from China to Belgium via Singapore.

The prosecution’s case is that the products were then brought to Britain under the pretence that they were parallel imports, supplied by appropriately licensed people and had originated in France. Two of the defendants held wholesale dealer’s licences.

All five defendants deny the charges. The trial is not expected to be concluded until March 2011.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11050780

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