Where do we go from here?

Continued from Page 2.

Licensed veterinarians who help cat owners use unregulated, unsafe, counterfeit black-market substances, or sell them to their clients also aid and abet, disclaimer or no disclaimer. Perhaps the vets involved in the black-market are not entirely clear on the professional ethics and responsibilities, as well as the legality of their actions. They may be confused, when they see people casually and openly discussing treatment with black market unregulated substances, and believe what they do is sufficiently in the grey zone to shield them from legal trouble. A recently published VIN News Service article added a layer of confusion by obfuscating the consequences, leading to the mistaken impression that though illegal, using unregulated black-market substances of unverifiable composition and origin is common practice. 

Veterinarians who value their professional license and their investment in their practice may rethink their position upon reading this article. They possibly will remind themselves of the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the AVMA, which are available here and make their choice accordingly.

The black market distribution network.
These are the Facebook groups, social media accounts, blogs, websites, etc. (easily found with a google search) that form the distribution network of the black market of counterfeit GS-441524 substance. They are the foot soldiers, the ones who provide the backbone and logistics for the promotion, sales, distribution, delivery, support, how-to instructions, etc. In short, aiding and abetting at its very best.

Let’s hope for them that they truly believe in their “cause” or that their share of profits is worth the risk. Because when all is said and done, it does not matter who they are, what they do, or how they justify their actions. It’s all irrelevant: selling illegal, unregulated substances is a crime. Facilitating sales is a crime. Delivering in-person or shipping illegal products is a crime. Collecting money from the sale of illicit substances is a crime. Organizing a worldwide network to supply unregulated chemical substances is a crime. Anyone engaged in criminal activity should realize their lives could be turned upside down at any moment.

Public exposure is the worst thing that can happen to any black market and its participants; by definition, it is an illegal activity. The limelight shone on the trade of counterfeit GS-441524 is a recipe for disaster for its participants, from top-level to foot soldier. It cannot be made legal just because it has some social media following or selected public interest. That is not how things work. No amount of hubris can make this situation right. 

Mrs. Gingrich’s letter to Gilead Science, Inc., also distributed to appropriate agencies, set events in motion. Then came the VIN News article that outed black market participants. Those who mistakenly thought the mention in the news network of veterinarians was an endorsement understood wrong. While it provides a roadmap to acquire illicit, unregulated black market, the VIN News article also puts the responsibility for the creation and development of the black market on the people and groups they identify BY NAME (and links). In the event of a criminal investigation, no doubt it will come in handy. Which brings an interesting question: is VIN trying to play both sides?

4 – Don’t forget Gilead, and the newly minted co-owner of the GS-441524 patent, the Regents of the University of California.
Gilead has so far remained mostly silent – except for the cease and desist letters sent to reagent suppliers of GS-441524 (Source: VIN News Network). It will be interesting to see what the Regents of the University of California, who, as of four days ago (September 17, 2019) also have a vested interest in GS-441524 will do. While it may not be possible to eradicate counterfeiting of all chemical substances, in this particular case, the theft happens in plain sight, and the perpetrators are well known. A lack of response could be mistaken for complacency, and the line between complacent and complicit is a thin one, both from a legal and ethical standpoint.


All this leaves us with one question: what next? Once the dominoes start falling, and involved parties realize what is at stake, it will become a game of who’s going to cut a deal first, and incriminate the others. In the tight-knit black market network, today’s friend may become tomorrow’s foe. Those who pledge the strongest support and solidarity may be the first ones to save their hide.

For those who have taken a stand against anything illegal, it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. And then, order and sanity will probably come back to the FIP community.