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Westlake Doctor Charged in Illegally Importing Cancer Drugs

Doctors accused of bringing in non-FDA approved drugs from outside the United States.

Photo credit: US Attorney's Office
Photo credit: US Attorney's Office
A Westlake doctor is one of seven Ohio oncologists charged with illegally importing cancer medications that had not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration. 

Marwan Massouh, 54, of Westlake is part of the group charged with "causing the shipment of misbranded drugs," a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act," according to Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

According to the St. John Medical Center website, Massouh practices oncology, hematology and internal medicine. A representative at Massouh's office said they had no comment. 

Also charged are  Ranjan Bhandari, 56, Liverpool. Timmappa Bidari, 68, Parma. David Fishman, 62, Euclid; Su-Chiao Kuo, 60, Brunswick; Poornanand Palaparty, 62, Cleveland; and Hassan Tahsildar, 55, of Euclid. 

The doctors are accused of obtaining drugs, including Zometa, Kytril, Taxotere, Gemzar, Eloxatin and others, from outside the United States, where the drugs were not approved by the FDA, according to the charges. 
“These doctors used drugs that had not been approved by the FDA,” Dettelbach said in a press release. “Our office is committed to working with our partners to make sure patients are getting medicine that has been properly inspected.” 

A special agent assigned to the case said safety was an issue. 

“FDA’s regulatory standards are designed to ensure the safety and quality of the medical devices and drugs distributed to American consumers,” Antoinette V. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, said. “We will continue to work to investigate all persons, including medical professionals, who disregard regulatory requirements and jeopardize the public health by participating in the distribution of misbranded products.” 

A drug may be considered misbranded even if it is identical in composition to an FDA-approved drug (that is, a drug labeled and packaged in compliance with the FDA’s standards) and even if it was made by the same manufacturer in the same facility as the FDA-approved version.

If convicted, the doctors face up to one year in prison and fines up to $100,000.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Collyer following investigations by the FDA – Office of Criminal Investigations and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. 

A charge is not evidence of guilt. 

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