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Florida Oncologist Indicted for Purchasing Unapproved Cancer Drugs from Foreign Sources

Published Online:6:00 PM, Tue December 13, 2016

D. Anda Norbergs, MD

D. Anda Norbergs, MD, an oncologist based in Palm Harbor, Florida, has been indicted for purchasing unapproved cancer medications from foreign sources and defrauding Medicare, United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III has announced.
A federal judge found Norbergs, aged 61, guilty of 17 counts of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs, 12 counts of smuggling goods into the US, 11 counts of health care fraud, and 5 counts of mail fraud.
She faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for each count of mail fraud and smuggling, 10 years for each count of health care fraud, and 3 years for each count of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs, according to a news release from US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2017.
A licensed physician, Norbergs was the head doctor, owner, and operator of East Lake Oncology (ELO), a cancer treatment clinic located in Palm Harbor.
According to the release, Norbergs ordered and directed others at ELO to order drugs from foreign, unlicensed distributors, including Quality Specialty Products (QSP), since at least May 2009. The drugs, sold to ELO and other foreign, unlicensed distributors, were not approved by the FDA. In addition, a chemotherapy medication sold by QSP was missing the key ingredient of the drug.
Norbergs continued to administer the unapproved drugs to patients even after learning this news from other sources. When QSP shut down, Norbergs switched to buying drugs from another foreign, unlicensed distributor. Many of the drugs were shipped directly to ELO from outside the US, usually from the United Kingdom, the release states.
The packaging and documents shipped with the drugs showed that they were manufactured and packaged for distribution in foreign countries, such as Turkey, India, and Germany. Additionally, some of the packaging for the drugs showed text in foreign languages, without any translation. These misbranded drugs were then administered at ELO, unbeknownst to patients.
After administering the drugs to patients, ELO submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare. In submitting those claims, Norbergs falsely represented that the FDA-approved version of the drugs had been administered, all while knowing that the unapproved and misbranded versions had been given to patients instead. Norbergs intended to generate profits from the difference between the Medicare reimbursement rates for the FDA-approved drugs and the discounted prices of the misbranded versions of those drugs purchased from foreign distributors.
The case was investigated by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General and by the US FDA. It is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorneys Adam M. Saltzman and Jay Trezevant.

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