Doctor to pay $2M, pleads guilty to dispensing foreign cancer drugs

The FDA has rolled up yet another doctor in its campaign to punish practitioners who knowingly bought unapproved foreign drugs on the cheap, taking the risk of giving patients ineffective or even counterfeit medications, which some of them ended up doing.

Robert L. Carter, 74, an oncologist who ran a clinic in Joplin, MO, pleaded guilty this week to buying and selling misbranded prescription drugs. Carter also paid about $972,000 in restitution today to Medicare, Tri-Care, Medicaid programs, which he charged for the drugs, and has agreed to forfeit $1.2 million. He also faces up to a year in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

According to the FDA, for a couple of years beginning in 2010 Carter bought prescription cancer drugs from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, drugs that QSP obtained from foreign sources and so were not approved for use in the U.S. Some of the drugs included mixing instructions in languages other than English.

QSP is one of the companies that has been at the heart of a shipments of foreign-made drugs being used in the U.S. The FDA in 2012 warned 350 physician practices that foreign versions of Botox they had bought from QSP might be counterfeit. QSP is a company tied to Kris Thorkelson, the owner of the internet pharmacy operation Companies he controlled were also tied to a shipments of Altuzan, which is the the brand name for the version of Roche's ($RHHBY) cancer drug Avastin made in Turkey. Tests of those drugs found that they contained no active ingredients.

The wholesale operations of were suspended by Canadian authorities last year and last week, federal Canadian agents raided the Winnipeg headquarters of his company. They declined to say why, citing a court imposed confidentiality order.

Once authorities discovered the counterfeits, the FDA and Justice Department began investigating and charging a number of wholesalers who were bringing in misbranded, foreign drugs and pursued a number of the doctors around the country that knowingly bought them to get drugs on the cheap.

- read the FDA release

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