Florida Oncologist Convicted for Buying Misbranded Cancer Drugs from Supplier of Fake Avastin

Dr. Diana Anda Norbergs was convicted by a Federal Grand Jury on 45 counts related to her multi-year practice of treating her oncology patients with imported, non-FDA approved cancer medications, and then billing Medicare, public, and private insurers for the full cost of the genuine treatments.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is reporting that Florida physician, Dr. D. Anda Norbergs, has been convicted of a 45-count indictment for her years-long scam of purchasing cancer treatments from unlicensed sources for her oncology practice, East Lake Oncology (ELO). According to the DOJ, the charges included receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs, smuggling, mail fraud and health care fraud.

Norbergs started buying misbranded cancer medication in 2009 from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) the DOJ reports. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), QSP first came to the attention of authorities in 2012 as a primary supplier of the counterfeit Avastin that began appearing in U.S. oncology clinics.

According to the DOJ, once Norbergs learned that QSP was under investigation for supplying fake medication, she “continued to have QSP drugs administered to patients. When QSP shut down, Norbergs switched to buying drugs from another foreign, unlicensed distributor.”

Dr. Norbergs’ original indictment from 2015 describes how, “From in or about January 2011, to in or about March 2012, defendant Norbergs caused ELO to purchase from QSP over $700,000 in misbranded unapproved drugs, to include the drugs listed above, administered those drugs to ELO’s patients, and caused ELO to bill Medicare and other public and private health care benefits programs for the unapproved drugs.”

Included in Norbergs’ indictment was explicit evidence that Norbergs systematically treated oncology patients with the misbranded cancer medications, and then billed Medicare for the full value of the genuine, FDA-approved medications the patients should have received.

Norbergs’ superseding indictment from 2016 made clear that the doctor had been repeatedly warned about her clandestine cancer medication purchases noting, “Norbergs received multiple warnings or notices during 2011 and 2012 that it was prohibited for her and ELO to purchase and administer prescription drugs that were misbranded and unapproved by the FDA.”

The DOJ press release on the occasion of Dr. Norbergs indictment requested that “Patients and/or family members of patients treated by Dr. Norbergs and East Lake Oncology who may have questions or concerns regarding medical treatment received should contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General for more information. A dedicated email account has been established. Please contact the case agents at: Dr.Norbergs.patients@oig.hhs.gov”

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. Assistant United States Attorneys Adam M. Saltzman and Jay Trezevant acted as prosecutors.

Dr. Norbergs is scheduled for sentencing on February 16, 2017. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each of the 17 counts for mail fraud and smuggling, 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the 11 health care fraud counts, and 3 years for each of the 17 counts of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs.
By S. Imber