John Hollenhorst ReportingA federal grand jury has indicted two Salt Lake men for playing a central role in a nationwide prescription drug scheme. They allegedly put people at risk by selling drugs of unknown quality to pharmacies.
The scheme has been under investigation for more than a year. And now six people are charged in Utah, New York, New Jersey and California. Experts say it's a type of crime that can create a life-and-death situation for some people who rely on prescription drugs.
Federal authorities used search warrants yesterday at a business. The people at PDRX Marketing are an unfriendly sort, according to workers at a neighboring business.
Lynda Wilson, Business neighbor: “We’ve always thought there was something weird going on next door.”
Federal agents have now arrested Umit Kagan Ocak and Ayyoob Abbaszadeh. They're charged with selling prescription drugs of unknown quality and reliability.
Lynda Wilson, Business Neighbor: “Well, we just notice they were secretive all the time. They kept their doors locked all the time. They acted paranoid.”
According to the indictment, companies in New Jersey, New York and California obtained prescription drugs improperly and sent them to the Utah defendants. They in turn sold them to various pharmacies around the country.
The drugs did not have the required paperwork vouching for their origin. In some cases, drugs were simply bought off the street from patients who didn't use them. In at least one case, drugs that require refrigeration were NOT kept cool.
Dr. Glen Hanson, Professor of Pharmacology, University of Utah: “It could be very much a life and death issue.”
Pharmacology expert Glen Hanson says proper paperwork is crucial. Otherwise doctors and patients don't know when and where the drugs were manufactured, what formulations were used, how old the drugs are, or whether they were properly handled.
Dr. Glen Hanson: "And as a clinician trying to prescribe these things, you could get yourself into trouble and not even know you have problem."
Agents armed with search warrants raided a number of pharmacies yesterday, none of them in Utah. The government has set up a website with details on the drugs and pharmacies involved in the scheme.