Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network

March 02, 2007 18:53 ET

CACN Laments Acquital of Purveyor of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 2, 2007) - The acquittal on February 28, 2007 of pharmacist Abadir Nasr on 12 criminal charges arising from his sale at the King West Pharmacy in Hamilton of counterfeit NORVASC blood pressure medication provides a striking example of the ineffectiveness of Canada's anti-counterfeiting regime according to the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN).

Nasr was acquitted of 12 criminal charges on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knew he was selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Justice Richard Jennis found that the crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the pharmacist had formed the criminal intent required for a conviction under the criminal charges.

The trial judge heard testimony from 46 witnesses, including 22 patients as well as representatives from the RCMP, private investigators, Pfizer Canada Inc., the Ontario Ministry of Health and Health Canada. The evidence included a statement made by Nasr to the RCMP that he had purchased some of the products in issue from an individual having a white van who identified himself as a wholesaler from Vancouver and came into the pharmacy offering the products at discounted prices. The judges finding was made despite the fact that Nasr did not testify and called no evidence in his defence. Further, there was evidence identified by the Crown Prosecutor (Cheryl Gzik) in her submissions that was asserted to support deceit or wilful blindness. The evidence even included testimony regarding easily distinguishable differences between the counterfeit product and legitimate product that had been brought to the attention of Nasr by concerned customers.

"Acquittal of the Hamilton pharmacist on the basis of failure to prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt in this case demonstrates the problem faced by prosecutors trying to prove mens rae under the available provisions addressing counterfeiting in Canada" said Brian Isaac, Chair of the Legislation Committee of the CACN and a partner with Smart & Biggar, Canada's largest intellectual property law boutique. He adds "the fact that retailers of counterfeit products may be able to avoid criminal liability based on assertion of purchases in suspicious circumstances from distributors who provide assurances of authenticity but who are not available to substantiate the story clearly sends the wrong message to retailers regarding the care they must exercise when purchasing products."

"The lack of enforcement against and the lack of education and awareness on the negative impact of product counterfeiting and piracy in Canada create a perfect storm situation resulting in rampant counterfeiting in Canada" says Lorne Lipkus, Chair of the CACN Education and Training Committee and a partner with Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP, a leading anti-counterfeiting law firm. The CACN is actively pursuing legislative reform and educational programs to address the problem of counterfeiting in Canada. Mr. Lipkus points out that Canada is far behind many of its international trading partners in addressing IP crime and asserts that cases such as this one exemplify the problem encountered by police and prosecutors in trying to address the problem and protect the public.

About CACN

The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN) is a non-profit coalition of stakeholders that have united in the fight against product counterfeiting and copyright piracy in Canada and internationally. Members include broad-based organizations and companies from a range of industries as well as law firms representing intellectual property rights holders. CACN's mission is to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of counterfeit products in Canada and abroad through public education, training of law enforcement, and lobbying for legislative change and increased resources. CACN can be found online at www.cacn.ca. IN: HEALTH, JUSTICE, RETAIL, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Brian Isaac, Chair of the Legislation Committee, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network
    Primary Phone: 416-593-5514
    Secondary Phone: 416-917-6743
    E-mail: bisaac@smart-biggar.ca