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The Department of Justice announced Jan. 18 that the owner and operator of a major online retailer of colored contact lenses in the U.S. was sentenced to 46 months in prison for running an international operation importing large quantities of counterfeit and misbranded contact lenses from suppliers in China and South Korea and then selling them over the Internet. The man was also ordered to remit $200,000 in restitution and forfeit $1.2 million in proceeds derived from the scheme as well as property seized during the investigation.
A DOJ press release notes that contact lenses are medical devices that if not fitted, worn, or cared for properly can result in serious eye injury and must therefore receive prior Food and Drug Administration authorization to enter the U.S. and be further distributed. In this case, however, the man sold purportedly authentic contact lenses without a prescription, adequate directions for use, or adequate warnings. The man later admitted that many of the contact lenses were substandard and that some were tested and found to be contaminated with a potentially dangerous bacteria.