Doctor faces jail in global drugs racket led by Indian-origin man

October 10th, 2008 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 10 (IANS) An American doctor who is alleged to have banked more a million pounds for the Indian-born lynchpin in a global fake medicines racket is expected to be jailed next week.George Patino, a 48-year-old Mexican with a US passport, sold thousands of fake tablets, including Viagra, through the internet in a multi-million pound racket led by Indian-origin Ashish Halai of Hertfordshire.

But a jury that last year jailed Halai and three of associates - salesman Gary Haywood, student Ashwin Patel and businessman Zahid Mirza - could not reach a verdict on Patino.

Patino is alleged to have been taking up to 200 orders a day for drugs, including the impotence aid Viagra that did not work, reportedly charging 20 pounds for pills that cost 25 pence.

At his retrial Thursday, Judge Nicholas Price granted him bail with the warning: “In my view there is only one appropriate sentence and that is one of an immediate period of custody.

“You must understand that I grant you bail in those circumstances. When you come to court on Tuesday you will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.”

Patino, who was nicknamed the King of Viagra by his associates, pleaded guilty to criminally netting 133,000 pounds. But he is alleged to have banked 1.3 million pounds in Singapore for scam linchpin Halai.

The four other gang members were convicted last year of smuggling copies of medicines from Viagra to baldness ‘cures’ made in illicit factories in China and Pakistan.

Mick Deats, head of enforcement at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said: “Counterfeit medicines are dangerous. They are designed to deceive patients and health care professionals and generate vast profits.”

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