Southern California Oncologist Convicted in Cancer Drug Importation Scheme

In May 2009, Dr. Vinod Patwardhan, an oncologist working in Upland and Chino, California, was found guilty by a jury of smuggling foreign, misbranded cancer drugs into the United States and administering them to his patients. Between 2004 and 2008, Patwardhan purchased $1.3 million worth of injectable cancer drugs from foreign sources. He and his employees made at least 34 trips to India, Honduras, Panama and the Philippines to collect the drugs and smuggle them into the United States.

Patwardhan’s employees stated in court that he brought smuggled medication which required refrigeration to his office in gym or shopping bags. They also reported that he would occasionally administer diluted doses of IV-drugs like Procrit. He concealed the foreign sources of the drugs he had imported and billed Medicare and other insurance programs for the price of the genuine medications approved by the FDA.

Dr. Patwardhan was sentenced in September 2009 to six months home detention, followed by four and a half years of probation. He was also required to perform 1000 hours of community service, and pay the Federal government a $1.3 million fine.

Who: Office of Criminal Investigation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA-OCI), the Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

When: May 11, 2009; 2004-2008.

Where: Claremont, California

How: A member of Patwardhan’s staff alerted law enforcement.

Additional details:In November 2012, Dr. Patwardhan petitioned to have his revocation of Medicare privileges set aside. Summary judgment on August 30, 2013 found that Dr. Patwardhan was not entitled to Medicare billing privileges, due to his felony conviction for importing non-FDA approved oncology medication.

Related sources:

" May 11, 2009: Doctor Found Guilty of Smuggling Foreign Cancer Drugs into the United States ," FDA Press Release. May 11, 2009.

" Southern California doctor charged with bringing misbranded foreign cancer drugs into the United States ," FDA Press Release. August 15, 2008.

" Family suing doctor found guilty of smuggling foreign drugs," California News. June 29, 2009.

" Drug-smuggling doctor sentenced to probation ," Contra Costa Times. September 21, 2009.

"  Download Vinod Patwardhan vs Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ," HHS Departmental Appeals Board Decision (pdf). August 30, 2013.