Gilead Sciences discovered two “kingpins” thought to mastermind the ongoing counterfeit HIV medication scheme.
The pharmaceutical company scored a big win in their fight to stop the distribution of counterfeit bottles of HIV drugs produced under their name. On September 28, U.S. District Judge Anne Donnelly issued an order to freeze the assets of more than 50 defendants newly added to Gilead’s ongoing lawsuit targeting people accused of operating the nationwide scheme.
Reuters reported that two of the newly added defendants are alleged “kingpins” Lazaro Roberto Hernandez, who is currently under house arrest for other counterfeit and money laundering charges, and Armando Herrera. Gilead was able to identify the two men by matching the approximate locations of their disposable burner cell phones with their flight records.
Evidence also showed that counterfeiters used legitimate bottles that had once contained genuine treatment, but they were refilled and resealed to appear unopened before being resold.
The alleged kingpins are now included with other alleged mid-level leaders within an intricate web of shell companies, distributors and pharmacies that Gilead seeks to stop.
The company initially warned of the counterfeit circulation in August 2021 after filing a civil suit against a network of small drug distributors in July. According to FiercePharma, wholesale distributor Safe Chain Solutions of Maryland was among the first of the 22 named defendants in the lawsuit. They disputed this allegation to the Wall Street Journal and stated they never knowingly sold anything counterfeit.
Gilead announced its plan of action to remove counterfeit HIV medications from the U.S. supply chain in a statement issued to their website in January 2022.
The company warned that more than $250 million worth of counterfeit drugs spread out in more than 85,000 bottles has been identified so far.
Gilead continues to work closely with the FDA and law enforcement to remove all counterfeit medication from circulation.