Tomorrow night, "Dan Rather Reports" will present an investigation into the distribution of counterfeit drugs. These are not just lifestyle drugs like Viagra or Cialis, these are counterfeit versions of life saving drugs like Aricept, used for the treatment of Alzheimer's and Casodex, used to treat prostate cancer. This insidious crime is netting billions of dollars for criminals while potentially robbing unsuspecting victims of something more important than money... their health.
The hour begins with footage that has never been broadcast before, footage of Chinese businessman Kevin Xu, videotaped by agents of the Federal government. Xu is currently serving a six and a half year sentence for conspiring with others in the Peoples Republic of China to traffic in counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs. Xu first met with U.S. law enforcement in Thailand in 2007, when he was hoping to move large quantities of expensive counterfeit prescription medicines - little did he know that his potential customer was actually a U.S. Customs agent wearing a wire and that the entire meeting was being videotaped at a distance by another officer.
"Mr. Xu was unlike any other person that we had encountered. Most individuals that come on our radar typically counterfeit lifestyle enhancing drugs; drugs such as Cialis and Viagra," said Andre Watson, the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement special agent tasked with watching Kevin Xu. "In the case of Mr. Xu he offered a wide variety of drugs. Just by the array of products it was clear that he had access to manufacturing and distribution capabilities."
Xu is also believed to be part of a U.K. distribution ring that caused a "category one" recall of three drugs in Great Britain.
However, while Xu may be in prison, there are many others who are succeeding in flooding the medicine supply with fakes – especially in Africa.
Dan Rather and his team also traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, and the continent's second largest economy behind South Africa. The country is battling to stem the relentless flow of fake medicine pouring over its borders from the most callous and dangerous of counterfeiting operations – big pill mills in China and elsewhere that are targeting the most helpless.
Rather explores the back alleys of a Nigerian marketplace with Dr. Paul Orhii, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, or NAFDAC, where often times the small pharmacists are unknowingly pushing bad medicine.
Tom Woods, a former U.S. State Department agent in Africa, and a private consultant for the makers of Truscan, a portable device used as a preliminary field test to assess the authenticity of the pills in question, warns, "It's not just Nigeria's problem. It's really becoming the world's problem because these drugs are not manufactured in large measure right here in Nigeria. And as you follow it up the food chain, you realize that we're all becoming more vulnerable."
"Dan Rather Reports: The Mysterious Case of Kevin Xu" premieres on HDNet, Tuesday, September 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.