Another Florida-based health practitioner has disgraced herself. As reported by Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times, 61 year-old Dr. Diana Anda Norbergs has been found guilty of buying unapproved drugs and administering them to her patients. On August 4th, Norbergs was sentenced to 70 months in prison. She was also ordered to pay $848,671 in restitution – most of it to Medicare. Purchasing foreign-labelled cancer drugs without government approval, Norbergs’ actions affected no less than 66 of her patients who were deemed victims of her crimes.
Sullivan points out, however, that none of the patients who received the drugs from Norbergs reported any ill effects. Her defense attorney, George Tragos, made sure to point out that the drugs Norbergs attained were legitimate medications. Had they not been, her patients would have endured noticeable complications. In a statement, the disgraced doctor insisted that the foreign-purchased drugs were of identical quality to their U.S. government-approved counterparts.
Her defense team attempted to highlight the fact that Medicare was the only real victim, reports Sullivan. U.S. District Judge James Moody, who handed down the sentence, wasn’t particularly of the same mind.
“Were I a patient, and I received nonapproved drugs, I would be angry,” he is reported as saying. Family members of Norbergs’ patients agreed with the judge. “I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering if my mother would have lived longer if she’d gotten the treatment she deserved,” said Lori Reed. Her mother, Wanda Colgan, passed away in 2011.
At present, Norbergs is free on bond and appealing her conviction, which took place in November. Nevertheless, she expressed deep regret and remorse for hurting her patients. “I am so sorry for the stress I may have caused you and your family members,” she is quoted as saying in Sullivan’s article, “My patients were the most important thing in my life. I would never intentionally harm anybody.”
Formerly the operator of East Lake Oncology, Norbergs not only gave her patients upwards of $700,000 worth of the foreign drugs, she also billed Medicare for them, pretending to have used the higher-priced U.S. versions of the medication. The drugs included MabThera, Eprex, Ribomustin, Neulastim, and Zometa and were ordered from distributors in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Testifying in her own defense, Norbergs said that she believed the drugs she ordered were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As well, she made sure to point out and that the companies she bought the drugs from could sell drugs in the United States. She claimed that if she had known otherwise, she would have stopped buying and administering the drugs.
Prosecutors weren’t buying it. They held fast to their assertion that Norbergs knew exactly what she was doing. “Among other evidence, they noted a visit she received in 2011 from an FDA agent, who gave her a subpoena for business records and told her to stop buying foreign, unapproved drugs,” reveals Sullivan, “Despite the warning, the purchases continued.”
At Allegiant Experts, we’d like to see our wonderful state of Florida endure a lot less health care fraud, especially at the risk of patients’ health. As a result, we offer clinical expert services to lawyers who try cases against perpetrators of health care fraud. If you could use our help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.