Now, he thought he finally had an entrée to the US market. His contact, going under the name "Mr. Ed," was a bald, middle-aged man with a sketchy background in the clothing business. Ed ran a company based in Houston, Texas called Tri State Distributors. Back in March, Xu and his wife, Jennifer, met Ed at the Starbucks in the Bangkok airport. Xu promised he could deliver orders of 100,000 pills if Ed gave him time to prepare. One month after that meeting, Xu shipped $5720 worth of drug samples, including 130 boxes of Zyprexa, the Eli Lilly drug for bipolar disorder, to Tri State's headquarters in a bleak office park a short drive from George Bush Intercontinental Airport. If all went according to plan, these drugs would end up on pharmacy shelves where the biggest profits await.
Then, the email arrived. It was probably the first significant stumbling block in what was so far Xu's flawless career. "One of my customers called," Ed wrote in a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, "and said there is a recall of Zyprexa in Europe with the same lot number. I am trying to find out more on the Internet. Have you heard anything? We will cancel the Zyprexa order until we find out the problem lot number."
That day, the United Kingdom's drug agency had pulled the drug from pharmacy shelves after a tip from a wholesaler. Analysis revealed that the pills contained just 75% of the active ingredient.ﾠThe agency later recalled two other drugs: the Sanofi-Aventis anticlotting medication, Plavix, and the AstraZeneca prostate cancer medication Casodex. Xu had given Ed both medicines, which would turn out to be subpotent and contain high levels of impurities. They were counterfeits.