NBTY, Inc. Agrees to Pay $950,000 to Settle Claims That it Shipped Tablets Used in the Illegal Manufacturing of Methamphetamine
JUL 21 -- ANTHONY P. PLACIDO, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York, and ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of NewYork, announced today that NBTY, Inc., located in Bohemia, New York, will pay $950,000 to settle civil claims brought by the United States under the Controlled Substances Act arising from NBTY’s failure to give prior notice to the Drug Enforcement Administration of suspicious shipments of pseudoephedrine tablets and failing to obtain identification from customers to whom NBTY sold pseudoephedrine tablets. Pseudoephedrine tablets are legitimately used in small quantities as cold medication. In larger quantities, they are used in the illicit the manufacture of methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine tablets have been subject to regulation as a listed chemical under the Controlled Substances Act since October 1997. The notification and identification statutes that NBTY violated were enacted in order to prevent the use of pseudoephedrine in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine.
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge ANTHONY P. PLACIDO stated, “The significance of this case cannot be overstated. Regulatory control of listed chemicals is essential to stemming the production of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine. In addition to the several criminal actions associated with this investigation, the results of the civil action announced today serve notice on the companies that manufacture or distribute these chemicals that they must act as responsible citizens or face the consequences.”
Prior to January 2003, NBTY sold pseudoephedrine tablets by mail order to individual customers. On 385 occasions between January 1999 and May 2002, NBTY shipped large quantities of pseudoephedrine tablets to customers. The size of these shipments, some in excess of 100,000 tablets, were far larger than the amounts that an individual could use for cold relief. NBTY did not give DEA prior notification of these shipments, thereby making it difficult,if not impossible, for DEA to track them. NBTY also failed to obtain identification from customers on 8,377 shipments of pseudoephedrine tablets, including the large shipments mentioned above. As a result, DEA does not know the true identity of many of the customers who purchased large quantities of pseudoephedrine tablets from NBTY, and has been unable to determine whether many of the tablets shipped were used to manufacture methamphetamine, thereby allowing persons who might be involved in the illegal manufacturing process to escape detection and criminal prosecution.
Notwithstanding NBTY’s violations of the Controlled Substances Act, at least 14 of NBTY’s customers have been arrested on criminal charges related to methamphetamine and/or pseudoephedrine in California, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee. Illegal methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories have been found at locations in Arkansas, Colorado and Arizona, to which NBTY shipped pseudoephedrine tablets. “ This settlement sends a message to companies that manufacture and distribute listed chemicals that the laws and regulations governing the sale of these chemicals will be rigorously enforced to ensure that the chemicals are not diverted for illegal use,” stated United States Attorney ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF. Ms. MAUSKOPF thanked the National Drug Intelligence Center and state and local law enforcement authorities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee and California for their assistance in this case.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elliot M. Schachner.