Jury Convicts L.A. Resident For Selling Homemade Drugs
A federal jury deliberated for less than two hours on March 23 before convicting a Los Angeles resident of illegally selling homemade drugs with claims his concoctions would cure a host of diseases, including bird flu, tuberculosis and SARS.
Sami Arshak Yanikian, 62, of the County Club Park district of Los Angeles, was found guilty of two counts of introducing unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce. The evidence presented during a two-day trial in federal court showed that Yanikian used a website to market products that included “Sam’s Inhaler Spray For Viral Respiratory Infections” and “Sam’s Universal Oral Spray.” The website claimed that one of the products could reverse ailments such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, COPD, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis and respiratory viral conditions. Yanikian also claimed the product would help individuals to quit smoking.
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Yanikian, informing him that he was marketing a “drug” and that he was making specific claims about his products, even though there was no evidence that they were generally recognized as safe and effective for their labeled uses. Yanikian responded to the FDA, saying that he was selling the products abroad. However, Yanikian actually sold his products to an undercover agent in Tempe, Arizona during the investigation. The defendant faces a statutory maximum penalty of one year in federal prison for each of the two counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge Victor B. Kenton on June 6.