Thursday, April 22, 2021

Ukrainian men plead guilty to trafficking counterfeit cancer, hepatitis drugs


Two men pleaded guilty to smuggling and selling fake cancer and hepatitis drugs Friday in federal court in Houston, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ukrainian citizens Maksym Nienadov, 36, and Volodymyr Nikolaienko, 33, admitted to co-conspiring to traffic counterfeit drugs into the U.S. in the Southern District of Texas, prosecutors said. Nienadov also admitted to misbranding drugs, according to the attorneys.

In June 2018, undercover federal agents began communicating with Nienadov about the illegal sale of the drug Keytruda, prosecutors said, which prompted a months-long exchange.

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Nikolaienko unlawfully sold counterfeit or unapproved pills of Keytruda, as well as the drugs Abraxane and Epclusa, according to federal authorities.

Neither men were medical doctors, pharmacists or licensed pharmaceutical wholesalers in the U.S., investigators said, which meant they were not legally allowed to sell the drugs.

Nienadov and Nikolaienko were arrested on April 18, 2019, after they arrived in the United States from Ukraine to discuss future unlawful shipments of pharmaceuticals with the undercover agents, prosecutors said.

The men are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 4.

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