Palm Harbor Oncologist Convicted Of Buying Unapproved Cancer Medications From Foreign Sources And Defrauding Medicare
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury today found D. Anda Norbergs (61, Palm Harbor) guilty of 17 counts of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs, 12 counts of smuggling goods into the United States, 11 counts of health care fraud, and 5 counts of mail fraud. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each mail fraud and smuggling offense, 10 years’ imprisonment for each health care fraud count, and 3 years for each count of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2017.
Norbergs was originally indicted on May 28, 2015. A second superseding indictment was returned on July 21, 2016.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Norbergs, a licensed physician in Florida, was the head doctor, owner, and operator of East Lake Oncology (“ELO”), a cancer treatment clinic located in Palm Harbor. Beginning in at least May 2009, she ordered, and directed others at ELO to order, drugs from foreign, unlicensed distributors, including Quality Specialty Products (“QSP”). The drugs sold to ELO by QSP and other foreign, unlicensed distributors were not FDA-approved. In fact, QSP had reportedly sold counterfeit versions of a chemotherapy medication that did not have the key ingredient in the drug. Norbergs learned of this news from other sources yet continued to have QSP drugs administered to patients. When QSP shut down, Norbergs switched to buying drugs from another foreign, unlicensed distributor. Many of the drugs were shipped directly to ELO from a location outside the United States, usually from the United Kingdom. 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 was in foreign languages, without any English translation.
Unbeknownst to patients, these misbranded drugs were then administered at ELO. After administering these drugs to patients, ELO submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare. In submitting those claims, Norbergs falsely represented that the FDA-approved versions of the drugs had been administered, when she knew that unapproved and misbranded versions had been given to patients. In so doing, 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.
This case was investigated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam M. Saltzman and Jay Trezevant.