• Extensive joint operation by Ecuadorian authorities breaks up illegal network responsible for putting counterfeit pharmaceuticals on the market.
  • Case of considerable local media interest concludes with three year prison sentence for the perpetrator.
  • Verdict continues the recent trend seen at judicial level in Ecuador of handing down custodial sentences to counterfeiters.

A three-year prison sentence has been handed down to one of the defendants in a case of significant media interest in which Ecuadorian authorities broke up an illegal network producing and distributing counterfeiting pharmaceuticals. On April 17, 2018, following two rounds of appeal, the individual who went to trial received a three-year prison sentence after being held to be the perpetrator of the operation.

The news made waves when the network was originally apprehended towards the end of 2015, because of the sheer scale and detail of the illicit operation, encompassing a secret lab where the tablets were made, facilities for packaging and printing the house logo of a well-known pharma brand and even the printing of marketing authorizations, storage facilities, and finally distribution into informal sales channels. Following an anonymous complaint and several months of joint investigation by our firm, Customs, Intelligence Services, Police and the Attorney General, raids were conducted at several locations, seizing more than 2 million tablets which related to birth control, the treatment of cholesterol, and the treatment of severe pain.

At the beginning of June 2016, CorralRosales succeeded in helping to secure an outcome in which one of those arrested took a plea bargain resulting in a sentence of one year in prison. This was a significant outcome at the time, as although the Ecuadorian Criminal Code provided for a term of three to five years for the offence in question, there were no prior cases under the provision, and the case came to light against the backdrop of a softening of criminal sanctions against infringers of IP rights.

This latest ruling has no further right of appeal and while a three-year sentence might seem lenient given the severity of the offence and the maximum term available to the judges under the relevant provisions, it continues the recent trend seen at judicial level in Ecuador of handing down custodial sentences to counterfeiters. It is therefore to be welcomed, given that until recently custodial sentences for this type of offence were conspicuous by their absence. CorralRosales assisted the prosecution throughout the entire trial process.

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