MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Ursula Wing, 42, New York City, New York, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to a two-year term of probation, and fined $10,000, for supplying abortion-inducing pills without a prescription to customers in the United States, including Wisconsin, and throughout the world, and concealing her conduct from U.S. government regulatory and enforcement authorities.
On March 20, 2020, Wing pleaded guilty to Count 1 of an indictment that charged her with conspiracy to defraud various U.S. governmental agencies, including the FDA, U.S. Postal Service, and U.S. Customs. The indictment alleged that Wing operated a blog called “the Macrobiotic Stoner,” with a secret web page called “My Secret Bodega,” where she sold foreign-sourced versions of Mifepristone and Misoprostol from India, that were not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.
According to the indictment, these drugs are used to medically terminate an early pregnancy (up to 70 days or less). Mifepristone is a prescription drug, but is not available to the public through pharmacies; its distribution is restricted to specially qualified, licensed physicians, and the administration of Mifepristone is subject to an FDA Risk and Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS). Among the REMS requirements are that Mifepristone may only be dispensed in clinics, medical offices, and hospitals by, or under the supervision of, a certified healthcare provider.
At her plea hearing, Wing admitted that she could not sell these prescription drugs because she was not licensed to do so. She also admitted that she illegally smuggled these misbranded drugs into the United States from an offshore pharmacy located in India. Wing admitted that she operated a fake jewelry business called Fatima’s Bead Basket to hide her illegal conduct from U.S. authorities. Wing admitted that she inserted a necklace or other item of jewelry into the shipping envelope to serve as the cover piece of merchandise being mailed to the customer. She then packaged the misbranded prescription drugs into a smaller packet that was in a hidden panel and taped to the inside of the shipping envelope. Wing also disguised the nature of the item being purchased by listing jewelry product names on the invoice.
Wing also admitted that she created a second fake online jewelry business called Morocco International and a fake merchant processing portal for use as a cover for selling the misbranded prescription drugs on her secret webpage. By creating this fake merchant processing portal, Wing allowed her Macrobiotic Stoner clients to pay for the misbranded drugs using their credit cards, with the sales showing up on the merchant account as jewelry, and not Mifepristone or Misoprostol.
At today’s sentencing, Judge Peterson noted that while Wing had the right to disagree with the legal requirements surrounding the distribution of Mifepristone and Misoprostol in the United States, she nonetheless committed a crime in selling these drugs, which she knowingly obtained from an offshore pharmacy in India, and which had not been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. Judge Peterson explained that such conduct created a danger to the public in two ways. First, it allowed people to obtain the drugs such as a Marathon County man who allegedly used them in an attempt to induce his girlfriend to abort her 120-day pregnancy without her knowledge or consent, which resulted in the man being charged in Marathon County Circuit Court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child. Second, Wing could not vouch for the safety of the product she was distributing, as evidenced by the fact that she had no testing protocols in place, and had to trust the pills she was smuggling into the United States from India were safe and effective.
Judge Peterson also ordered Wing to forfeit $61,753, which represented the cost of the Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills that Wing sold from 2016 to 2018.
“Prescription drugs that are obtained illegally from online sources and then sold online to consumers can cause serious harm,” said Special Agent in Charge Lynda M. Burdelik, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring justice to those who place the public’s health at risk.”
The case against Wing is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.