Man Charged For Smuggling Vaccine

by Copyright 2004 NBC10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. | Dec 7, 2004
Man Charged For Smuggling Vaccine A man has been charged in a case involving hundreds of doses of smuggled flu vaccine, apparently to cash in on the national shortage of the inoculations.

Mahoud A. Abuarqoub, 37, of Somers Point, N.J., was arrested over the weekend and appeared in U.S. District Court in Camden on Monday afternoon, said Greg Reinert, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

Reinert said the exact charges Abuarqoub faces would remain under seal until the court appearance.

According to a public affairs specialist, Abuarqoub will post $250,000 bail after the court appearance.

Last month, a group that officials did not identify offered to sell hundreds of doses of the vaccine to Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, just south of Atlantic City.

Hospital officials balked at the offer and called federal authorities, who seized the drugs before they reached Somers Point. Besides being illegal, vaccine that is not handled properly can cause health problems.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the illicit flu vaccine shipment, which had not been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, did not get into the nation's supply of vaccine.

The case became public when a home in Somers Point was searched on Nov. 22 in connection with alleged smuggling.

The country faced a severe shortage of vaccine this flu season because a British plant that was expected to supply the United States with 46 million to 48 million doses was shut down due to contamination.

The state's first case of flu was reported last week.

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Author: Copyright 2004 by NBC10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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