Commonwealth Journal

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June 23, 2014

Hematology and Oncology Center, office manager plead guilty

Somerset —

Correction
 
 
The headline above the Friday, June 20, 2014, story on the Hematology and Oncology Center of Somerset and its office manager pleading guilty to receiving a misbranded cancer drug wrongly stated that Dr. N. Mullai, a physician at the center, entered the same pleading. Dr. Mullai did not plead guilty and was not a listed defendant in the complaint by the Federal Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigation. The Commonwealth Journal regrets the incorrect headline and apologizes to Dr. Mullai.

The Hematology and Oncology Center in Somerset and its former office manager pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of knowingly receiving foreign, misbranded cancer treatment drugs and administering them to patients for money. The manager, Natarajan Murugesan, admitted to aiding and abetting in the introduction of an unapproved drug into interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Murugesan ordered the drugs from a distributor in Canada using the name Quality Specialty Products. The drugs were sourced from foreign locations including: Turkey, India, the European Union, the United Kingdom, or other unidentified international locations. The drugs were often labeled in languages other than English. Some of them were not even a version of the international oncology drug approved by the FDA. The offenses qualify as misdemeanors under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, meaning HOC could face up to five years of probation and a fine of $200,000, while Murugesan, could spend a year in jail and be fined up to $100,000. They stem from a 2014 civil settlement in which the center, Murugesan, and the center's doctor, Newdu Mullai, agreed to pay $2 million, plus interest, to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false claims to the Medicare program for misbranded and unapproved chemotherapy drugs administered by the clinic. They are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 3. Judah Taylor is a staff writer at the Commonwealth journal. He can be reached at jtaylor@somerset-kentucky.com.

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