U.S. enforcement officials have issued an eight-count indictment against a physician who illegally imported and sold hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a COVID-19 cure.
In April, Dr. Jennings Staley, who ran the Carmel Valley, California–based Skinny Beach Med Spa, was charged on allegations of selling $4000 “COVID-19 treatment packs.”
The pack he offered through telemedicine evaluation contained 20 HCQ tablets, chloroquine, azithromycin (Z-pack), 30 alprazolam pills, and 30 sildenafil citrate pills. Buyers also had 24/7 access to Dr. Staley and his team.
He has also been accused of selling another pack containing HCQ and azithromycin tablets for $595, which could be purchased online and would be shipped to the patient “after establishment of a patient-doctor relationship,” according to Medscape Medical News.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California indicted Dr. Staley on charges of “mail fraud, illegal importation, making false statements, and identity theft.”
U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said, “People must be able to trust their doctors to offer honest medical advice instead of a fraudulent sales pitch, especially during a global pandemic. Medical professionals who lie about their treatments to profit from a desperate, fearful public will face criminal charges and serious consequences like any other lawbreaker.”
Patrick Griffin, Dr. Staley’s attorney, told the San Diego Union-Tribune in May that Dr. Staley “was merely following the lead of President Donald Trump, who had actively promoted HCQ to prevent COVID-19,” according to Medscape Medical News. Griffin also said that pharmacies were selling HCQ tablets for COVID-19.
Griffin suggested that federal agents have been manipulating Dr. Staley into making claims about HCQ’s efficacy.
Dr. Staley has been accused of offering his packs for sale through email, which was soon caught the attention of FDA and FBI agents.
An FBI undercover agent responded to the email and said he wanted to buy six of the COVID-19 treatment packs for his family. Dr. Staley called him and described HCQ as a “miracle cure,” according to the indictment.
Later, when the FBI agents went to Dr. Staley’s office to interview him, he denied making such statements, which eventually constituted one of the counts against him – lying to FBI agents.
Dr. Staley was illegally importing HCQ tablets from a Chinese supplier. They agreed to lie to U.S. Customs about a shipment that Dr. Staley thought had 12 kg of HCQ powder but actually contained baking soda.
The FBI agents also said that Dr. Staley used information about an employee to submit a fake prescription to obtain HCQ tablets from online pharmacies.
However, it is unclear when the case will go to trial. The news article was published on Medscape Medical News.