7 Ohio docs pony up $2.6M for buying foreign-made cancer drugs

The FDA has found that one of the forces driving the U.S. market for illegal, foreign-made drugs is doctors willing to buy them to cut their costs. And so the agency has been pursuing some physicians as well as those who are smuggling the drugs into the U.S.

That effort has now led to guilty pleas and $2.6 million in fines and restitution from 7 doctors in Ohio, the FDA reports. All of them were sentenced to probation and agreed to make payments ranging from $128,000 to $1.1 million. The drugs the physicians were accused of obtaining included Zometa, Kytril and Taxotere, which are used to treat cancer patients.

The FDA said the drugs were foreign-made but did not say where the doctors sourced them. The agency has been doggedly pursuing companies and individuals that have been bringing foreign-made drugs into the U.S., some of which have turned out to be counterfeits.

Just last month, the FDA and the Department of Justice said that two men from Turkey had been indicted for smuggling illegal cancer drugs into the U.S., some of which were fakes. Adding to the dangers of the products, the agency said, was the fact that some of them should have been sent in temperature-controlled containers but were not. Those charges stem from a case launched in 2012 after counterfeit versions of Roche's ($RHHBY) Avastin were found in the U.S. A St. Louis, MO-area cancer doctor pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for selling the misbranded prescriptions in that case.

And in December, the co-owner of Arlington, VA-based Gallant Pharma International pleaded guilty to a host of charges related to buying and selling misbranded and unapproved drugs to doctors in the U.S., including a foreign version of Allergan's ($AGN) Botox.

- read the FDA release