Feds believe they stopped flow of illegal cancer drugs into St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– A smuggling ring bringing potentially counterfeit cancer drugs into St. Louis has been shut down, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

That word came on Thursday after two Turkish nationals, Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman were arrested in Puerto Rico after being indicted in St. Louis, charged with illegally importing cancer drugs manufactured in Turkey.

Federal investigators have been working on this case since 2012, when they found a Town & Country oncologist had been giving patients smuggled prescriptions.  Dr. Abid Nisar pled guilty to a federal misdemeanor for selling the misbranded prescriptions.

“The use of these drugs was shooting craps,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.

The drugs listed in the indictment, Neupogen, Ritaxin and Altuzan are very expensive cancer treatments, but were allegedly being sold by the two
Turkish nationals at deep discounts.

According to the indictment, the shipments were sneaked through customs in containers labeled gifts, or documents, or samples, and were not shipped in temperature protective containers, even though they were supposed to be kept cold.

The federal investigation found the smuggled drugs came to St. Louis from a distributor in California, which got them from a middle man in England, who got them from the manufacturer in Turkey.

Three more shipments were found in the West St. Louis County area even after Dr. Nisar`s arrest, but Callahan says patients have nothing to fear.

“I can assure the community that those drugs are in the hands of the Food and Drug Administration and that no one is in danger from those shipments,” Callahan said.

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