(photo credit: Reuters)
The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced Zvi Rosenblatt to five years and ten months imprisonment on Sunday for marketing and selling counterfeit erectile dysfunction (ED) medications Viagra, Cialis and Levitra without a prescription.
Rosenblatt was convicted in June on counts of fraud, endangering life, negligence, money laundering, trademark infringement and violating pharmaceutical regulations, after making over NIS 23 million from selling 400,000 of the fake brandname tablets.
Judge George Kara, sentencing, also imposed on Rosenblatt a suspended sentence of two years and ordered him to pay a fine of NIS 500,000.
Rosenblatt's co-defendant, medical doctor Leonid Adzharsky, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He also received an additional 18 months suspended sentence and a NIS 50,000 fine.
The court also imposed a fine of NIS 50,000 on each of the five companies through which Rosenblatt operated the scheme.
According to the original indictment, from 1999 through 2004, Rosenblatt and Adzharsky smuggled over 400,000 counterfeit Viagra, Cialis and Levitra tablets into Israel, then sold them to customers as genuine, brand name medications at pharmacies in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ashdod. The pair also sold the pills to international customers over the internet.
Rosenblatt and Azhdarsky sold the pills over the counter, although all
three drugs require a doctor's examination and prescription.
two defendants were also convicted of disguising their activities and
preventing the authorities from tracking them by setting up a complex
system of straw-man companies and bank accounts, in violation of the
Money Laundering Law. Rosenblatt set up the companies while Adzharsky
assisted him by acting as the front man for the scheme, the court found.
Judge Kara said that he could not find any mitigating factors that justified giving Rosenblatt a reduced sentence.
defendant is a man who carried out these actions according to his
whims, and enjoyed the fruits of selling fake medications," said the
Rosenblatt had received a 'handsome salary' from sales of
the pills, and knew full well that by doing so he could endanger the
health of those who purchased and used them, the judge added.
prosecution witness Dr Juza Chen, an ED specialist at the Sourasky
Medical Center in Tel Aviv, testified in court that taking Viagra at the
same time as certain other prescription drugs can have dangerous
consequences for a patient's health.