Maryland man admitted Monday in federal court that he stole medication
intended for poor people in Africa and sold them for a profit. Joseph
Egbe, 44, of Gwynn Oak is the owner of e-Meditech, a charitable group
that had a contract with the Catholic Medical Mission Board to
distribute the drugs. Egbe made more than $10,000 by selling some of
them to a Baltimore pharmacist, who then repackaged and resold them,
federal authorities said. Egbe pleaded guilty to misbranding of
pharmaceuticals in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. His attorney,
William E. Tabot, could not immediately be reached to comment. The
drugs Egbe sold included those used to treat the common cough as well
as medications used for patients with breast cancer, stomach ulcers and
diabetes. The drugs had been donated to the Catholic charity and were
supposed to be sent to Cameroon.Officials with the
Catholic Medical Mission Board, which is headquartered in New York and
has an office in the District, said they have been working with the
Department of Justice and the Food and Drug Administration since May
2008 on the investigation.
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google_protectAndRun("ads_core.google_render_ad", google_handleError, google_render_ad)The group receives millions of dollars worth of donations from
pharmaceutical and medical supply companies and sends them to
impoverished areas in dozens of countries.
“We send a lot of medication, but even one bottle that doesn’t end
up where we had intended it to is distressing to us,” said Barbara
Wright, a spokeswoman for the board. “There are so many personal
stories attached to the medicine we deliver. It’s never-ending.”
Wright recalled a trip she made to a clinic in Honduras. She said
the doctors and nurses told her that few people went there because
there was no medicine to treat them. However, when a woman arrived and
said her baby’s “chest was on fire,” the clinic was able to treat the
child for pneumonia.
According to court documents, Egbe orchestrated a scheme with Pamela
Arrey, a Maryland pharmacist who opened and operated two Medicine
Shoppe pharmacies in Baltimore.
Between 2005 and 2008, authorities said, Egbe took some shipments of
the donated drugs, attached labels with false expiration dates to them
and sold them to Arrey. Arrey wrote several checks to Egbe totaling
more than $10,000.
Arrey has been indicted on charges including health-care fraud,
conspiracy to misbrand drugs and sell donated drugs, and aggravated
identity theft. They are pending in federal court.