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Oncology Center Dupes Medicare and Violates Patient Trust with Illegal Pharmaceuticals

Oncology patients should not be exposed to pharmacological drugs with contaminants. Impurities could further weaken the immune system. Patients have the right to believe that his/her healthcare professional is acting in the best interest of the patient. Patients also have the right to trust that pharmaceutical drugs have the ability to produce an intended result.

Patients of East Lake Oncology in Tampa, Florida have been duped by healthcare professionals. The physician’s office was dispensing pharmaceutical drugs that were not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The healthcare professionals were handing out prescription drugs from other countries. The drugs were copies of chemotherapy drugs and other pharmaceuticals manufactured in the United States. The effect of the unapproved drugs on oncology patients is not known at this time.

Dr. Diana Anda Norbergs has been indicted on charges this past week for billing Medicare and other private insurance companies for chemotherapy drugs and other pharmaceuticals that are approved by the FDA, but dispensing less expensive, non-approved copies from other countries to patients. The criminal intent was to commit Medicare fraud. The East Lake Oncology Clinic violated the trust of cancer patients.

The majority of the pharmaceuticals were purchased from the United Kingdom and Canada. Patients were unaware of the scheme that has occurred for over six years. The healthcare professionals had been pocketing the profit. The doctor faces nine counts of receiving misbranded drugs in interstate commerce and twelve counts of healthcare fraud. The clinic’s website reports that the doctor has retired.

Citizens of the U.S. frequently buy prescription medications from Australia, Canada, England and New Zealand to save money. According to the National Center for Statistics, about 2% of the adult population in the United States purchased pharmaceuticals from a foreign country in 2011. Congress has recently introduced a bill that would make it legal for citizens to purchase pharmaceuticals from countries with similar safety regulations enforce.

*Photo courtesy of IMG_6472 by Kay at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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