PharmaKinetics Laboratories Inc. and its former vice president have pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation of Bolar Pharmaceutical Co., a generic drug company that itself has been convicted of a corruption charge.
Judge John R. Hargrove accepted the pleas in U.S. District Court in Baltimore yesterday and fined PharmaKinetics $200,000, an amount recommended by federal prosecutors.
Mark B. Perkal, a PharmaKinetics founder and former executive vice president, pleaded guilty at a separate hearing yesterday. He is to be sentenced Oct. 8.
Perkal and defense attorney William A. McDaniel Jr. said in court that two senior Bolar Pharmaceutical Co. officials threatened Perkal's life and the lives of his family if he did not help them cover-up a Bolar drug-switching scheme during investigations that led to the criminal charges.
Perkal freely admitted his guilt in the Bolar scheme, but said he participated in it "under duress."
McDaniel later refused to identify the Bolar officials and refused to let Perkal answer questions about the alleged threats.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan, who has guided more than 20 criminal cases tied to corruption in the generic drug industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also refused to identify the Bolar officials who allegedly threatened Perkal.
Lawrence G. McDade, a Justice Department prosecutor, said PharmaKinetics had performed bioequivalency tests for Bolar on Triamterene Hydrochlorothiazide, a highly profitable generic hypertension drug that the FDA approved for public sales, in 1987.
Jordan said PharmaKinetics, which is reorganizing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, should not be unduly penalized.
But he said the federal investigations of Bolar's product-switching were "thwarted" for more than a year by Perkal's actions.