Palm Harbor Oncologist Sentenced To Nearly Six Years For Treating Patients With Unapproved Cancer Drugs
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. has sentenced D. Anda Norbergs to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs, smuggling goods into the United States, health care fraud, and mail fraud. As part of her sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $848,671.19, the proceeds of the criminal conduct. A federal jury found Norbergs guilty on November 18, 2016.
According to testimony and evidence presented during the nine-day 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.
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 was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Adam M. Saltzman and Jay Trezevant.