Alvarado Medical Plaza Pharmacy Owner Sentenced in Black Market Cancer Drug Case, Ordered to Repay Medicare Over $1 Million

William Burdine, owner of Alvarado Medical Plaza Pharmacy in San Diego, had earlier pleaded guilty to charges he purchased injectable cancer medication from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) of Canada. QSP first came to the attention of Federal authorities when they were identified as a source of counterfeit Avastin.

Alvarado Medical Plaza Pharmacy owner William Burdine, has been sentenced to 8 months’ home confinement, and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service over the next 5 years, reports the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the occasion of his sentencing. He and his pharmacy have also been ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution for defrauding Medicare.

According to the FDA, the Alvarado Medical Plaza was a compounding pharmacy that purchased cancer medications, including Avastin, Eloxatin, Gemzar, Neupogen, Rituxin, Taxotere and Zometa from Canadian supplier Quality Specialty Products. Burdine used these black market cancer medications to create pre-mixed infusions for doctors. Burdine sold the illegal cancer medications to doctors for patient treatment without informing the doctors they were buying illegal, non-FDA approved medication. The FDA press release stated that Alvarado Medical Plaza Pharmacy “supplied the prescription oncology drugs purchased from QSP to doctors, pre-mixed in infusion bags, without advising the doctors that the drugs came from abroad and were not approved for use in the United States.”

Quality Specialty Products first came to the attention of the authorities in February 2012, when the FDA identified them as a source of counterfeit Avastin, warning “medical practices in the United States [that] purchased unapproved cancer medicines and, potentially, the counterfeit Avastin, from Quality Specialty Products (QSP), a foreign supplier that may also be known as Montana Health Care Solutions. Volunteer Distribution in Gainesboro, Tennessee is a distributor of QSP’s products. FDA has requested that the medical practices stop using any remaining products from these suppliers. FDA cannot ensure the safety or efficacy of any of these unapproved products.”

The owner and operator of Montana Healthcare Solutions, Paul Bottomley, pleaded guilty in March 2013 in the counterfeit Avastin case. Since 2007, 16 physicians and illegal distributors have been prosecuted for their purchase or sale of black market cancer medications.

To learn more about how counterfeit cancer medication infiltrated the secure U. S. drug supply chain, please download “Black Market Cancer Cases in the United States 2007-2013.

By S. Imber