District of Colorado dismissed 23 guilty counts against Thomas Bader, a
compounding pharmacist and owner of College Pharmacy in Denver Colorado,
while affirming eight counts and $4.8 million in forfeiture.
The case illustrates many of the nuanced risks involved with compounding
pharmacies, importing and exporting of active pharmaceutical ingredients
(API), compounding and selling high profile drugs such as human growth
hormone (HGH) and anabolic steroids, understanding the subtle distinction
between compounding and manufacturing, and the tenuous interplay between
state compounding laws and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
The case stems back to 2007 when Mr. Bader was charged with illegal
distribution, mail fraud, and conspiracy to facilitate the sale of smuggled
goods. Mr. Bader was importing HGH from China and compounding the API into
finished drug products. As Colorado’s compounding statute is very expansive,
he believed his practice to be protected under state law, and outside the
purview of FDCA.
The federal smuggling charges focused on the fact that imported HGH was from
a non-FDA registered facility and the compounded products thus involved new,
unapproved drugs requiring an NDA under FDCA. Mr. Bader was further charged
with illegal distribution of HGH and testosterone cypionate (a controlled
substance) as both products involved promotion for unapproved uses, illegal
under federal law.
On February 2, 2010 a federal jury found Mr. Bader guilty of 31 counts
including illegal distribution of HGH and controlled substances and unlawful
importation (i.e. smuggling) of HGH. Mr. Bader and counsel then moved to
acquit, or alternatively seek a new trial based on a number of legal
propositions including entrapment by estoppel, violation of due process
rights, erroneous juror instructions, failure to establish a criminal
purpose or intent, and insufficient evidence to support the findings.
Ultimately, on April 29, 2010 Judge Krieger dismissed 23 counts involving
illegal distribution of HGH. The Judge acknowledged a number of Mr. Bader’s
sales were for approved uses of HGH, including some even written for
children. Additionally, Mr. Bader had no way of knowing if the
prescriptions were for permissible uses and thus his actions were protected.
Still, the ruling upheld eight guilty counts. Two smuggling charges were
upheld, as importation of HGH from a non-FDA registered facility was seen as
“contrary to law,” and thus illegal. Simple repackaging or relabeling of a
product may be lawful under state compounding laws; however this
“compounding defense” could not shield Mr. Bader from further provisions of
Five illegal distribution counts involving HGH were upheld as the use of HGH
as an anti-aging drug is unauthorized and illegal. The lone distribution
charge involving controlled-substances was also upheld, as selling and
promoting testosterone cypionate for muscle building and ant-aging is
illegal. Lastly, the judge affirmed $4.8 million forfeiture in assets based
on the nature of the guilty counts. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled
for June 10, 2010.
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