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Miami man pleads guilty to selling misbranded HIV drugs

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A Miami man has pleaded guilty in federal court to distributing adulterated HIV drugs dispensed to U.S. patients.

Miami Herald | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

A Miami man pleaded guilty to distributing as much as $25 million worth of misbranded and adulterated HIV drugs that were dispensed by pharmacies across the U.S. to unsuspecting patients, federal prosecutors said.

Armando Herrera, 43, faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison for the crime.

Herrera pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Miami on Monday to one count of conspiracy to introduce adulterated and misbranded drugs in the U.S. market, court filings show.

A medication is adulterated if a substance has been substituted for the drug in whole or in part.

Herrera and his co-conspirators set up companies in Texas, California and Washington state that acquired large quantities of misbranded and adulterated HIV medication from legal channels, falsified the pills’ packaging and sold them at a steep discount to wholesalers that later sold them to pharmacies, court documents say.

Prosecutors said the wholesalers were involved in the criminal scheme, but the pharmacies were unaware that the drugs were altered or misbranded.

The adulterated and misbranded drugs included Truvada, Biktarvy and other unnamed medications.

Truvada is prescribed to prevent HIV infection in people who are at risk of contracting the virus. The medication is also used in combination with other drugs to treat infection.

Biktarvy is prescribed to treat HIV infection. Truvada and Biktarvy are manufactured by Gilead Sciences.

Herrera and his co-conspirators received between $16.7 million and $25 million in payment from two wholesalers, according to court filings.

The filings did not say how Herrera and his co-conspirators acquired the drugs.

Medications are often siphoned off the legal market by purchasing them from individual patients who were prescribed the drugs.

Herrera is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 21. His lawyer did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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