Family that ran online medicine website indicted in federal court in Pittsburgh

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Four members of a family that spanned India and North America, who are accused of working together to sell unapproved drugs, have been indicted in federal court in Pittsburgh according to documents unsealed today.

Facing a total of 17 criminal counts including distribution of misbranded drugs, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, importation of controlled substances and other charges are Javed Sunesra, 36, of Live Oak, Fla.; Zuned Sunesra, 34, of West Mumbai, India; Bismilla Sunesra, 59, of Sidney Point, India; and Taimur Khan, 32, of Vancouver, Canada.

Bismilla is the mother of Javed and Zuned, according to federal prosecutors, and Mr. Khan is a cousin.

They were accused in a June indictment of running the website and numerous related websites from 2005 through April. The websites advertised and sold Indian-made versions of controlled drugs like Viagra, Xenical, Celebrex, Soma, Cymbalta, Tadalafil. The versions were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the indictment.

"Bank records, payment processor records and submitted applications show that and its affiliate websites sold millions of dollars worth of prescription drugs over the course of its existence," according to the indictment. Investigators found evidence of monthly gross sales of $400,000 to 40,000 customers worldwide, including some in Pittsburgh, Rankin, Verona, Greensburg and Cranberry.

Though pharmacies are required to review prescriptions before dispensing such drugs, didn't ask for a doctor's note, according to the indictment. The company downplayed drug risks, according to the indictment, which quoted Bismilla Sunesra as admonishing the website's text author for "giving too many side effects. Please remember we are tying to sell the medication and not discourage people from buying it."

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

First Published August 18, 2014 12:00 AM


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