Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Joplin oncologist sentenced for dispensing misbranded drugs

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

An oncologist who operated a clinic in Joplin, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for dispensing foreign, misbranded drugs to his cancer patients.

Robert L. Carter, 74, of Carthage, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to five years of probation and ordered to pay $971,854 in restitution and a criminal forfeiture judgment of $1.2 million. Carter has already paid the full restitution amount to Medicare, Tri-Care, Missouri Medicaid, Oklahoma Medicaid and Kansas Medicaid. Carter has already paid $228,145 of the forfeiture judgment and still owes $971,854 in criminal forfeiture payment. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Carter must cease practicing medicine in Missouri during the probation period.

On March 30, 2015, Carter pleaded guilty to buying and selling misbranded prescription drugs. Carter was the president and medical practitioner of Robert L. Carter, M.D., in Joplin, from Oct. 23, 1991, to April 2, 2012. As a medical oncologist, Carter provided care and treatment for patients with cancer and blood diseases. The practice purchased prescription drugs, including chemotherapy drugs, which were prescribed by Carter and were administered and dispensed through the practice. Reimbursement for the drugs and their administration was sought from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Tricare as well as other private health care benefit programs.

In April 2010, Carter began ordering prescription cancer drugs from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. QSP sold drugs – which had been obtained from foreign sources and which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for distribution or use in the United States – to physicians and other health care providers in the United States.

QSP shipped misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs to Carter at his practice in Joplin. These misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs were administered to Carter’s cancer patients and Carter was reimbursed by government and private health insurance programs.

The labeling for the prescription drugs that Carter purchased from QSP was different than the versions of the drugs the FDA had approved for distribution in the United States. Among other things, they did not have labels bearing the symbol “Rx only,” and the labeling for some of the drugs was in one or more foreign languages. Some of the prescription drugs lacked mixing and use instructions in the English language.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.


Anonymous said...

He was a good doctor none the less. Our FDA gets in the way of affordable health care at times. Very strict on some things and not others. However he should have not done this. I am guessing he did it for more profit to himself. No one will ever know if the drugs were as affective or the same as American drugs and how adversely his patients were affected. Perhaps some of them were even better off. Its a shame if the drugs are the same that other countries can ship them and sell them so much cheaper. That should be investigated. Compare the drugs. If they can sell them cheaper why can’t we? We get all kinds of crap from China and somehow that is approved but not Canada. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

If they can sell them cheaper why can’t we?

Because other countries say, sell them cheap or we will ignore your patents and make them ourselves.

The prices for brand name drugs here, before their patents expire and they become generic, is high because US market pays almost all of the costs of developing new drugs; make all drugs cheap, and you'll won't see any new drugs and the drug companies will go bankrupt or get subsidized by the government.

As someone who's surviving only because of a drug that was brand name and expensive when I first starting taking it, and who's only hope for a "cure", and not being disabled, is someone developing a new drug, I'm very much interested in making sure we continue to develop them.

As for what this doctor did, yep, it was for the money, since he billed the government as if they were drugs for the US market. If he had only done it for patients who couldn't afford the US prices, he might be in some trouble, but the government, like everyone else, really gets upset when you steal from it.

Greg Rogler said...

Dr Carter prolonged my mothers life an extra 6 quality years and his ability to co-operate with other facilities to help her receive her meds in missouri was key in her recoveries I was so saddened when i saw this original report and refuse to believe that anything he did was for his own personal gain. Sometimes our system fails not the Dr and this is the case here

Anonymous said...

Dr Carter is and always has been an AMAZING human and doctor. He was there for his patients and did what was best for them. It's too bad, really. This was his living, like any professional, but he made these decisions in the best interests of his patients. :((

Anonymous said...

but he made these decisions in the best interests of his patients.

In these cases where he billed the government or their private health plans, and everyone but him paid the same amount as if he'd bought official, for the US market drugs, he was doing it only for the best interests of his pocket. He was imposing on these patients a risk of counterfeits, of poorer quality from countries with lower standards and enforcement, or improper handling such as being kept in too hot a location for too long. You might be able to justify that if the patients couldn't otherwise easily afford them, but they paid the same co-pays.

Dusty Roads said...

Mr. Carter made out like a bandit with all the profit he made off those cheap meds he was buying. I am sure his restitution is just a drop in the bucket compared to the cash he made.