Prescription For Danger

President Bush surrounded by members of Congress signs the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington.
In the business of illegal counterfeit drug sales, tools of the trade are "... used to stamp the expiration dates and lot numbers of the boxes," according to an FDA investigator.

"This is Pergonal, which was also counterfeit; it's a fertility drug."

In this case, seized by FDA investigators from the back of a plumbing van, "What he would do is soak these bottles in the paint thinner to remove the labels. He had to remove the old labels because they were labeled for sale outside the U.S. and he couldn't sell them in the U.S.," explained Keith Melofchik, an FDA Special Agent.

In the hunt for the counterfeiters, the trail often runs cold. But this time, it led investigators to a seemingly unlikely suspect — Moshe Milstein, a rabbi who ran a drug wholesale business out of his Brooklyn home.

How To Spot Counterfeits
CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports it can be extremely difficult to tell a counterfeit drug from the real one. Doctors advise if you've been taking the same medicine for quite some time and the packaging seems at all different, you should make inquiries. Also, if you've been taking the same medicine and you suddenly notice your body responding differently, or not at all, or get new symptoms, you should make inquiries.

Below are links to information from drug companies on how to spot counterfeit drugs of their products that have surfaced:

  • Click here to read Amgen's information regarding how to spot a counterfeit drug product claiming to be Neupogen.
  • Click here to read Genentech's information regarding how to spot a counterfeit drug product claiming to be Nutropin AQ.
  • Click here to read Serono's information regarding how to spot a counterfeit drug product claiming to be Serostim.
  • There's no single definition for counterfeit drugs. They may contain dangerous substitutes instead of the real ingredients. Or they may be much like "the real thing" — only expired, or not approved for sale in the U.S.

    Milstein bought Parkinson's and fertility drugs from overseas — where there is no FDA to make sure they're saf. He replaced the labels, and sold the medicine to wholesalers and drug stores in the U.S.

    Some of it even ended up at posh pharmacies in New York, patronized by Manhattan's elite — women who hoped the fertility drugs would help them get pregnant.

    "Some of it was found to contain dirt. It could've ended up a very dangerous situation if someone had injected this," said Melofchik.

    Because it ended up on shelves alongside the legal versions of the same medicine, there's no way to tell who got the wrong drugs. Prosecutors say Milstein sold more than $4 million worth in two years.

    Milstein's supporters say that while he may have operated outside the proper channels, the drugs he sold posed no danger.

    It's just inconceivable to think that he could be accused of any wrongdoing. This was not a situation of selling counterfeit drugs, he was selling drugs that were safe and legitimate," said Yaakov Salomon, Milstein's friend.

    A jury rejected Milstein's defense and convicted him on five felony counts. He's scheduled to be sentenced next week in a New York court.

    ©MMI, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved