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Former Joplin Oncologist sentenced for dispensing foreign, mis-branded drugs; Must pay $2.1 Million in penalties

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SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI -

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an oncologist who operated a clinic in Joplin, Mo., was sentenced in federal court today for dispensing foreign, misbranded drugs to his cancer patients.

Robert L. Carter, 74, of Carthage, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to five years of probation and ordered to pay $971,854 in restitution and a criminal forfeiture judgment of $1.2 million. Carter has already paid the full restitution amount to Medicare, Tri-Care, Missouri Medicaid, Oklahoma Medicaid and Kansas Medicaid. Carter has already paid $228,145 of the forfeiture judgment and still owes $971,854 in criminal forfeiture payment. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Carter must cease practicing medicine in Missouri during the probation period.

On March 30, 2015, Carter pleaded guilty to buying and selling misbranded prescription drugs. Carter was the president and medical practitioner of Robert L. Carter, M.D., in Joplin, from Oct. 23, 1991, to April 2, 2012. As a medical oncologist, Carter provided care and treatment for patients with cancer and blood diseases. The practice purchased prescription drugs, including chemotherapy drugs, which were prescribed by Carter and were administered and dispensed through the practice. Reimbursement for the drugs and their administration was sought from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Tricare as well as other private health care benefit programs.

In April 2010, Carter began ordering prescription cancer drugs from Quality Specialty Products (QSP) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. QSP sold drugs – which had been obtained from foreign sources and which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for distribution or use in the United States – to physicians and other health care providers in the United States.

QSP shipped misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs to Carter at his practice in Joplin. These misbranded and FDA-unapproved drugs were administered to Carter’s cancer patients and Carter was reimbursed by government and private health insurance programs.

The labeling for the prescription drugs that Carter purchased from QSP was different than the versions of the drugs the FDA had approved for distribution in the United States. Among other things, they did not have labels bearing the symbol “Rx only,” and the labeling for some of the drugs was in one or more foreign languages. Some of the prescription drugs lacked mixing and use instructions in the English language.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General.

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