FDA campaign against use of foreign-made cancer drugs rolls up another doctor

The FDA and Justice Department have extracted a half-million-dollar settlement from a California oncologist who is among doctors found to be buying unapproved cancer drugs and then charging state and federal programs for FDA-approved treatments. The agreement comes just weeks after a Kentucky doctor pleaded guilty to charges of doing the same thing.

Dr. Prabhjit Purewal, a Manteca-based oncologist, will pay the U.S. $550,000 to settle allegations that he defrauded Medicare, Tricare and Medicaid, the DOJ said in a release. The physician has already paid $400,000.

According to the DOJ, for two years Purewal bought drugs from Warwick Healthcare Solutions, which was marketing foreign-made cancer drugs, some of which turned out to be fakes. The company also operated under the banner of Richard's Pharma and Ban Dune. In 2012, the FDA warned that it had found the company was shipping boxes labeled Altuzan, which is the the brand name for Avastin in Turkey. Tests, however, determined some of them contained no active ingredient.

The DOJ did not indicate that Purewal received any of the counterfeits. The doctor, however, would charge the federally funded health programs as if the drugs he was giving his patients were FDA-approved.

Last month the FDA and DOJ said that Louisville, KY, physician Mark Heinicke had pleaded guilty to administering unapproved foreign versions of drugs on his patients that included Rituxan, Remicade and Prolia. The Kentucky physician, who bought the drugs at a deep discount from the U.K., agreed to pay $515,000 as part of his plea agreement and to settle civil charges.

- here's the release