Turkish Drug Wholesaler Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Counterfeit Cancer Drugs

Akemi Malone

On July 22, 2014, Ozkan Semizoglu pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to smuggling misbranded and adulterated counterfeit cancer drugs from Turkey  to Chesterfield, Missouri. The Foreign Trade Director of a Turkish drug wholesaler included in these shipments the drug Altuzan® (the Turkish version of Avastin®). Semizoglu admitted in the plea agreement that he used shipping labels to conceal the illegal nature of the shipments, reduced the size of large shipments to  reduce the possibility of seizures from Customs, and shipped drugs that needed constant cold in uninsulated containers. He also admitted to shipping Altuzan® to Richard Taylor, a United Kingdom drug wholesaler; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had to seize Altuzan® from Taylor’s customers/physicians before, in 2012. The FDA determined that the Altuzan® that Taylor and Semizoglu shipped was counterfeit, with no active ingredient. The FDA worked with German police and prosecutors as well as Europol in this case.

This investigation has led to several prosecutions in the Eastern District of Missouri, including a 
number of physicians. Sentencing for Semizoglu is set for October 28, 2014.