Oncologist Sentenced; Dispensing Foreign, Misbranded Drugs

The United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced that an oncologist who operated a clinic in Joplin, Missouri was sentenced in federal court in July for dispensing foreign, misbranded drugs to his cancer patients.


The 74-year-old oncologist was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $971,854 in restitution and a criminal forfeiture judgment of $1.2 million. He already paid the full restitution amount to Medicare, Tri-Care, Missouri Medicaid, Oklahoma Medicaid, and Kansas Medicaid. He already paid $228,145 of the forfeiture judgment and still owes $971,854 in criminal forfeiture payment. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he must cease practicing medicine in Missouri during the probation period.


On March 30, 2015, the doctor pleaded guilty to buying and selling misbranded prescription drugs. As a medical oncologist, he provided care and treatment for patients with cancer and blood diseases. The practice purchased prescription drugs, including chemotherapy drugs, which were prescribed by the oncologist and were administered and dispensed through the practice. Reimbursement for the drugs and their administration was sought from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Tricare, as well as other private health care benefit programs.


In April 2010, the doctor began ordering prescription cancer drugs from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. QSP sold drugs – which had been obtained from foreign sources and which had not been approved by the FDA for distribution or use in the United States – to physicians and other health care providers in the United States.


QSP shipped misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs to the doctor at his practice in Joplin. These misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs were administered to his cancer patients and he was reimbursed by government and private health insurance programs.


The labeling for the prescription drugs that the doctor purchased from QSP was different from the versions of the drugs the FDA had approved for distribution in the United States. Among other things, they did not have labels bearing the symbol “Rx only,” and the labeling for some of the drugs was in one or more foreign languages. Some of the prescription drugs lacked mixing and use instructions in the English language.


See the FDA Announcement


See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2015 Report: Chemotherapy: Risks and Liabilities When the Treatment Is Toxic


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See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2013 Report: Drugs, Dosage, and Damage: Physician Liability for Prescribing or Administering Medication


See also Medical Law Perspectives, October 2012 Report: Mistakes in Diagnosing Cancer: Liability Concerns for Misdiagnosis, Failure to Diagnose, and Delayed Diagnosis


See the Medical Law Perspectives June 29, 2015, Blog: Failure to Diagnose Cancer Claims Face Hurdles, Especially in New York