For the FDA, turning a blind eye would be the equivalent of abdicating its regulatory function. If so, the agency would have been rendered obsolete by a handful of people who behave as untouchable outlaws.
The ramifications are clear; the FDA’s mission extends well beyond the scope of a niche market for a small percentage of cats. The magnitude of the crisis created here – the black market of unregulated, unsafe substances illegally produced by Chinese – with the cooperation and backing of a well-known university and its well-publicized professor, would set a disturbing, risky precedent. Other researchers might feel entitled to do the same and publish a paper from a single, limited study not eligible for FDA or USDA review, conducted on cherry-picked patients to inflate the outcome. Then push it through every means possible as a “cure” and help black market providers cash in on it. Next thing you know, we’d see bogus “cures” for everything pop up everywhere, using the GS-441524 case as validation. Where does it stop?
It may stop here:
The FDA may “only” be a regulatory agency, but it is not without investigation and enforcement powers. The OCI – the Office of Criminal Investigations – is the enforcement arm of the FDA. The OCI is no joke. Once tasked with an investigation, they move swiftly, and they move hard, regardless of who’s involved – professional researchers, academic entities, or laymen or women, it does not matter. Closed groups, secret groups, websites, private chat groups – there is no place to hide, no safe haven to retreat to and continue exploiting cat owners’ desperation, conning them into buying their bootleg “cure for FIP.” Illegal is illegal and cannot be justified or explained away by emotional arguments or pseudo-professional claims. Disclaimers won’t cut it either. One cannot be exonerated from the commission of a criminal offense simply by declaring they are not responsible for any wrongdoing, when they know full well they are taking part in illegal activity. If it were that easy, then any drug peddler would just put up a website telling people where to go to buy drugs, but don’t hold them accountable for giving that information (although to be accurate, there are actually people doing exactly that in our particular case.)
Again, no matter how you twist it, rationalize it, or attempt to justify it, the black market remains what it is: completely illegal. And anyone involved is subject to being prosecuted for aiding and abetting. Given the ostentatious trail of information out there, any investigation should be a breeze.
3 - WHAT IS AIDING AND ABETTING?
The US legal definition is spelled out in Title 18. CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, Part I. Crimes, Chapter 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS, Section 2. Principals.
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.
The legislative intent is to punish as a principal not only one who directly commits an offense and one who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” another to commit an offense, but also anyone who causes the doing of an act which if done by him directly would render him guilty of an offense against the United States.
It removes all doubt that one who puts in motion or assists in the illegal enterprise but causes the commission of an indispensable element of the offense by an innocent agent or instrumentality, is guilty as a principal even though he intentionally refrained from the direct act constituting the completed offense. (Source: Cornell Law.)
Here’s what it means, translated into plain English:
The criminal offense here is the black market of the unregulated, counterfeit GS-441524. Period. Everyone familiar with this traffic knows and acknowledges the black market is illegal. There is NO GREY AREA: just because the patent holders have not been pursuing FDA approval for their patented formula at this time, does not give license to anyone to produce their own “brand.” There are no brands of GS-441524 – they are counterfeit, all of them. GS-441524 is an unregulated chemical substance, not a drug and not a brand name. Manufacturing illegal substances is a crime; selling them is a crime, and stealing IP (intellectual property, from a patent, for example) is a crime. So whatever deluded reasoning is used to try and rationalize the black market, as far as legal action is concerned, it won’t work.
So, who’s been aiding and abetting? The non-exhaustive list includes (but not limited to), starting from the top:
UC Davis and Dr. Niels Pedersen
Dr. Pedersen may have declared that he does not condone the black market, yet his actions demonstrate otherwise. Published statements, emails to cat owners using black-market substances on their cats, diagnostics help and treatment advice, declaring cats “cured,” posing with posters of cats on black market GS-441524, written advice on UC Davis website on where to find help with suppliers, how to avoid customs seizing packages, pledges to support vets and cat owners… The argument here would be: how is all of the above NOT aiding and abetting?
UC Davis, by allowing Dr. Pedersen to use its platform in support of the black market suppliers and facilitators, finds itself aiding and abetting in the commission of not one but two criminal offenses. The first one is the sale of illegal, unauthorized, unregulated chemical substances of unverifiable composition for use on sick cats. The second is pilfering its own, shared ownership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. of the patented GS-441524 formula in the process (which is mind-boggling.)