After HCCC’s second raid on IHRB on 24 July 2014, the Health Care Complaints Commission conducted an investigation which was sparked by a complaint from the Pharmacy Services Unit (Ministry of Health). By November 2014, the investigation into IHRB and Sam Cohen’s conduct was conclusive. The Commission confirmed that Mr Cohen had in fact breached his Prohibition Orders. Breaching such orders is a criminal offence. In addition, it was determined that Mr Cohen breached the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act by supplying unlawfully. For breaching Section 10 of the PTA Act alone, the maximum penalty is 15 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both.
I and other IHRB victims were well aware that Mr Cohen was acting illegally. We had many of IHRB’s bottles tested at a TGA-Accredited laboratory in Queensland. The problem was that our tests were disputed by Mr Cohen during a Consumer Tribunal Hearing. He said that if any of his bottles tested positive to Minoxidil, then it would be I who would have tampered with his bottles. Fair enough. The man deserves a fair trial. So, working with the Health Care Complaints Commission, I arranged for (what is known in police circles as) ‘a perfect chain of custody’ investigation, whereby we asked an IHRB customer to order his usual batch of IHRB products to be shipped, except this time, the client asked Sam Cohen to send the pack to a different temporary address. Unbeknownst to Mr Cohen, that temporary address was for a TGA-Accredited Laboratory. And bingo. The perfect chain-of-custody meant that Mr Cohen sent products directly to a Lab. Under strict supervision, and using international standards, the Laboratory concluded that IHRB’s bottles contained Minoxidil.
Meanwhile, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) obtained and reviewed evidence from some of Mr Cohen’s hair regrowth clients, medical practitioners and pharmacists with whom Mr Cohen had contact.
Mr Kieran Pehm, the Commissioner of HCCC said on the 14th of January 2015, ‘The evidence indicated that Mr Cohen had breached the Prohibition Order and the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods legislation. It is open to the Commission to prosecute beaches of Commission Prosecution Orders before a local court.’