Joe Michael Landers, former owner of Weatherford Compounding Pharmacy of Weatherford, Texas, has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors on a charge of introducing misbranded and adulterated drugs into interstate commerce. In exchange for pleading guilty, Landers faces a prison sentence of up to three years and up to $250,000 in fines. He also agreed to forfeit more than $612,000 seized from his bank account by the government in late 2015.
Sentencing is scheduled for December.
According to court documents filed earlier this spring in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Landers operated Weatherford Compounding between 2008 and 2015 and imported pharmaceutical ingredients from foreign countries including India and China. His staff made those ingredients into substances marketed toward racehorse trainers. One product, called “Super Fecta” was an intravenous substance Landers shipped to an unidentified veterinary clinic in Sunset, La.
Prosecutors determined Super Fecta was considered a prescription animal drug according to federal law because it was intended to behave as a drug but had not gone through the Food and Drug Administration's safety testing process.
In 2015, Weatherford Compounding was a co-defendant in a $6 million lawsuit brought by Quarter Horse trainer John Stinebaugh, who had four runners test positive for sildenafil, the active ingredient in erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. Stinebaugh said the positive tests stemmed from contaminated ingredients used in Weatherford product Tourniquet, which was purported to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). Stinebaugh initially received a 16-year suspension and $40,000 fine but successfully fought the sanctions on appeal.
The year before, federal agents from the FDA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out a search at Weatherford Compounding, allegedly looking for evidence relating to the Tourniquet product.
Weatherford Compounding agreed to give up its license to sell products in Iowa after that state's pharmacy board accused the company of multiple rule violations, including improper labeling, and introduction of adulterated drugs. The facility ultimately closed in October 2016.
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