1. News

Man admits he smuggled $1.1 million in counterfeit male enhancement drugs like Viagra and Cialis from China

Published Dec. 15, 2015

TAMPA — A Bradenton businessman made more than $1.1 million while smuggling thousands of knockoff Viagra and Cialis pills into the Tampa Bay area from China, federal authorities charge.

Now, the romance is over, and instead of a beachside bathtub, he's facing possible prison time.

Robert Ernest Lohr, 72, isn't a pharmacist, and his Bradenton shop isn't licensed as a pharmacy. That didn't stop him from accepting prescriptions and filling them with unapproved drugs, according to a signed plea agreement filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

His website promised to improve lives "one little blue pill at a time," offering the two brand-name erectile dysfunction pills at discount rates of less than $6 each. He also advertised prescription drugs for cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression and acid reflux.

Government chemists found that his counterfeits contained the same active ingredients found in Viagra and Cialis — sildenafil citrate or tadalafil — but not in a manner consistent with the authentic products.

And they detected those prescription compounds even in his over-the-counter "herbal" products, sold under names such as "Maxman" and "Vigour."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns consumers against purchasing drugs from overseas suppliers, noting that the FDA cannot guarantee safety or efficacy. It reports 3 percent of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy are in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and standards.

Lohr declined to comment.

From 2009 through September, he owned and operated a business on Florida Boulevard in Bradenton alternately called Canadian American Drug Club or American Drug Club.

Customs agents, starting in 2012, seized four shipments to Lohr from China containing a total of 8,100 counterfeit Viagra pills, the court record states. One packing slip described the contents as "toy parts." Agents also intercepted 500 counterfeit Cialis metal pill box containers.

In the scrutiny that followed, a joint effort by the FDA and Homeland Security Investigations, federal investigators posed as customers and made five undercover purchases, then submitted the products for analysis.

The money trail led to $926,466 in alleged proceeds, much of it kept by Lohr in an Edward Jones Investments account. Under terms of the plea agreement, Lohr would forfeit that money but keep his Sarasota residence.

He has agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States, which carries a sentence of up to five years.

No court hearings have been set yet.

Contact Patty Ryan at or (813) 226-3382.


  1. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The driver of a Ford F250 truck took evasive action but collided with the pedestrian, officials say.
  2. Hernando County sheriff’s sergeant  Louis “Lou” Genovese died Saturday after struggling for weeks with an undisclosed medical condition, according to the Sheriff's Office. He was 41. HERNANDO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Hernando County Sheriff's Office
    Sergeant Louis “Lou” Genovese, a deputy since 2006, was 41.
  3. FILE - This June 2, 2017, file image made from video shows the Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, he is reversing his plan to hold the next Group of Seven world leaders' meeting at his Doral, Florida, golf resort. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz, File) ALEX SANZ  |  AP
    The chief of staff called Trump’s sudden change of course — announced by the president on Twitter Saturday evening — “the right decision.”
  4. An Army carry team transfers the remains of Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Friday. Butler died Wednesday of injuries sustained from an IED in Afghanistan.
    The soldiers were with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and were in a Bradley fighting vehicle. They were not immediately identified.
  5. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
    News and notes from Hernando County
  6.  Tampa Bay Times
    No information was released about the individual who died.
  7. Jeffrey D. Senese was inaugurated as Saint Leo University's 10th president. Pictured, Monsignor Robert Morris (left), Class of 1979, and a member of the board of trustees, and D. Dewey Mitchell, chair of the university’s board of trustees, bestow the presidential medallion on Senese. Renee Gerstein and William Speer, Saint Leo University
    New and notes on local businesses
  8. Dr. Manjusri Vennamaneni (center) was awarded Businesswoman of the Year by the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce. With her are Matt Romeo, President of PrimeCare (left), and Dr. Pariksith Singh, CEO, Access Health Care Physicians. Vince Vanni
    News and notes on local businesses
  9. Scientology’s international spiritual headquarters in downtown Clearwater is anchored by the Flag Building, on left. An elevated walkway connects the building to the Fort Harrison Hotel, the church’s first purchase in the city in 1975. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The mysterious deals could reshape downtown Clearwater.
  10. Clearwater City Council members react to Tampa Bay Times reporting showing companies tied to members of Scientology bought 101 acres of downtown commercial property in three years. Times  |   (2017)
    We showed the politicians a map of the land now owned by buyers tied to Scientology. Here’s what they said.