Feds Say Cancer Drugs Weren’t Approved

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – A La Jolla oncologist and his medical office must repay $1.7 million to Medicare for buying foreign, unapproved cancer drugs and billing “as if the drugs were legitimate,” federal prosecutors said.
     Joel I. Bernstein, M.D., Inc., was fined $500,000, ordered to forfeit $1.2 million and pay $1.7 in restitution to Medicare, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Bernstein and his office were sentenced Friday after the corporation pleaded guilty in January to health care fraud.
     “In pleading guilty, the practice admitted that it had purchased $3.4 million of foreign cancer drugs, knowing they had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States,” prosecutors said in the statement. “From 2007 to 2011, Bernstein’s office purchased these drugs for significantly less than market value in the U.S., and then submitted claims to Medicare at the full reimbursement price. To conceal the scheme, the office fraudulently used Medicare reimbursement codes for approved cancer drugs, as Medicare does not pay for unapproved drugs.”
     Bernstein himself pleaded guilty to misdemeanor introducing unapproved drugs into interstate commerce. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

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