Kansas City, Mo. A Florida man pleaded guilty Friday to taking part in a $42 million conspiracy to illegally import and sell the cholesterol reduction drug Lipitor.
Michael Allyn Carlow, 52, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. He also pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges filed in Tennessee.
Carlow owned and operated G&K Pharma, a company that bought and sold drugs in the secondary wholesale market.
U.S. Atty. Bradley Schlozman said members of the conspiracy bought Lipitor intended for distribution in South America - then illegally imported it into the United States to sell it at a lower cost than Lipitor made for the U.S. market.
The Lipitor bought and sold by the conspirators was not manufactured by Pfizer, which makes Lipitor for distribution in the U.S. The scheme lasted from February 2002 through at least April 2003, Schlozman said.
"This defendant played a major role in an illegal scheme to selfishly profit at the expense of patients who needed prescription drugs," Schlozman said. "This was a corrupt business that took advantage of a vulnerable market, and Mr. Carlow will be held accountable."
Carlow could get five years in federal prison. No sentencing date has been set.
Co-defendant Douglas C. Albers, 55, of Leawood admitted last month that he paid Carlow's company more than $42 million to buy counterfeit, misbranded and illegally imported drugs.
He pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit and misbranded drugs and gave up his pharmacy licenses in Missouri and Kansas.