The FBI has learned that some American doctors have resorted to buying and treating patients with illegal foreign manufactured drugs due to these changes.
“Many cancer patients being treated by oncologists are eligible for Medicare, and reimbursements to doctors from Medicare have been cut, providing further incentive for physicians to buy non-approved discounted drugs,” indicates an information release from the FBI.
Special Agent Brad Godshall, a veteran health care fraud investigator with the FBI, cited the case of a Florida man who was sent to prison recently for selling over $7 million in illegal prescription oncology drugs to American physicians.
“A single course of chemotherapy can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Godshall stated. Doctors are enticed to purchase these illegal drugs to make up for financial loses from new health care laws and funding.
For several years Martin Paul Bean sold the illegal drugs to physicians that he imported. Bean recently pled guilty and was sentenced to prison for two years.Doctors, who relied reimbursements that have now been reduced, spurred them to seek these drugs.
“All those factors added to Bean being able to successfully carry on his fraud for so long,” Godshall revealed.
According to the FBI a “Pennsylvania oncology practice was recently fined $100,000 for using unapproved cancer drugs” and “was ordered the practice to place an advertisement in two medical journals warning of the dangers of using such drugs.”
The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association will feature the ad.
"The advertisement will really help get the word out to the medical community about the danger—and illegality—of buying discounted unapproved drugs,” Godshall stated. “Using only drugs approved by the FDA helps protect the supply chain from counterfeit and potentially unsafe drugs, and ultimately helps protects patients," Godshall said.
Bean’s scam promised doctors across the U.S. “generic cancer medicines at 20 to 35 percent discounts—and led doctors to believe that the drugs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as required by law.”
The drugs were “manufactured in Turkey, India, and Pakistan, and were not approved by the FDA. The drugs were shipped from overseas to California, where they were repackaged and illegally sent to doctors in California, Florida, Texas, and elsewhere,” the FBI release stated.
“Our investigation identified over 50 doctors across the country who purchased the cancer drugs from Bean’s online GlobalRX Store,” stated Godshall. “Ultimately, we were able to dismantle the entire operation.”
“You go to a doctor and expect that they are going to treat your disease and not knowingly expose you to any dangers,” Godshall observed. “But when doctors use drugs that have not been approved by the FDA, there’s no telling what you are getting. And that puts a patient’s health in jeopardy.”
When John Taylor of the FDA testified before the Senate in May 2004, he acknowledged "as millions of Americans without good prescription drug coverage experience every day, the “list prices” they face for patented drugs when they walk into a drug store in the United States can be much higher than the price of drugs sold abroad."