Bad Beat: Winnipeg online pharmacy faces counterfeit drug charges

Generic drugs are seen in this stock photo by Getty Images.

A Winnipeg-based online pharmacy has been hit with a slew of serious criminal charges by the U.S. government, including smuggling, money laundering, and conspiracy.

The U.S. prosecutor claims Canada Drugs sold $78 million in counterfeit drugs, and some drugs that were mislabelled and not even approved. To make matters worse, these drugs are used in treating cancers or the effects of chemotherapy, which means potentially thousands of patients were given bad, fake or less-effective drugs.

The U.S. government contends that company affiliates bought non-approved or mislabelled drugs abroad and sold them to doctors in the United States at reduced prices. One of these drugs is the Turkish version of the popular anti-cancer drug Avastin, called Altuzan.

Health Canada suspended the company’s license in June 2014 over “significant concerns” about its manufacturing practices, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been investigating Canada Drugs since 2012. You may be wondering why it took Health Canada two years to act on such a serious case.

Despite the suspension and charges against the company, people can still order drugs from the company’s website as it still has a valid license from the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba. What a world we live in.

Hell’s Angels ‘marathon’ trial begins

Over in Montreal, the Hell’s Angels trial has finally begun. After a week delay, Judge James Brunton told the jurors to prepare for a “marathon” trial that could last up to two years.

The five accused Angels’ members are facing a total of 34 criminal charges, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The jury was instructed to “treat this like 34 trials,” meaning the evidence on each charge needs to be considered independently from the other charges.

Given that jurors have to be readily available to the court during the duration of the trial, they likely weren’t too thrilled to hear they may be inconvenienced for up to two years.

With any luck the cafeteria food at the court is edible; otherwise it will be a very long trial.

Have you seen these oysters?

On a humorous note, more than $15,000 in oysters was stolen this week in Prince Edward Island.

The RCMP said about 100 boxes of these sea creatures were pilfered from a holding area in the Pinette River area late Saturday evening to early Sunday morning. The oyster thieves would have used a boat for initial transport, and then loaded the oysters into a car to move them to an unknown destination. Police are investigating where the oysters were taken.

Here’s hoping the mollusks will be found safe and sound.

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