Los Angeles, May 13, 2009
United States Attorney's Office, California
NRI Dr. Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan, 66, of Claremont,
an oncologist, who maintained offices in Upland and Chino has
been convicted of smuggling foreign misbranded cancer drugs into
the United States – drugs that were administered to his
patients even though they had not been approved by the Food and
He was convicted Friday afternoon by a jury in federal court
in Riverside. The jury found Patwardhan guilty of conspiracy,
two counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce
with intent to defraud or mislead, and three counts of smuggling.
The evidence presented during a seven-day trial showed that Patwardhan
regularly purchased unapproved cancer drugs from foreign countries
including India, Honduras, Panama and the Philippines. From 2004
until his arrest last August, Patwardhan smuggled or caused to
be smuggled more than $1.3 million worth of unapproved drugs from
foreign countries. The investigation revealed that Patwardhan
and his employees made at least 34 trips to foreign countries
to obtain drugs that were smuggled into the United States.
Most of Patwardhan’s patients were receiving the unapproved
and misbranded foreign drugs, a fact Patwardhan concealed from
his patients. As part of his scheme, Patwardhan charged the patients,
their insurance companies and Medicare for the unapproved drugs
at the same rate that he would charge for FDA-approved drugs,
even though he had paid significantly less for the unapproved
The investigation into Patwardhan began in March 2008 when a
member of his staff alerted law enforcement to his activities.
Patwardhan is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District
Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips on July 20. At sentencing, Patwardhan
faces a statutory maximum penalty of 71 years in federal prison.
Two of Patwardhan’s former employees have pleaded guilty
to misdemeanor charges of introducing unapproved new drugs into
interstate commerce and are scheduled to be sentenced later this
The investigation into Patwardhan was conducted by the Office
of Criminal Investigation of the United States Food and Drug Administration,
the Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The case was referred to these
agencies by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
August 16, 2008
Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan, 58, a Claremont resident, was
arrested at his Upland medical office on West Foothill Boulevard
and charged in U.S. District Court in Riverside with one count
of delivering misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.
The charge carries a penalty of up to three years in federal
prison, the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release.
He was released on $2 million bond and will be subject to home
detention with an electronic monitoring device. He is scheduled
to return to court Sept. 17 for arraignment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Widman said authorities are still
investigating how many patients were administered drugs.
In April after one of his employees said:
- the doctor was treating patients with cheaper cancer medications
purchased from India and Honduras that were not approved for
use in the U.S. by the Federal Drug Administration.
- Dr. would administer less than the full dosage to patients
to save money, according to employees interviewed by investigators.
Dr. treated about 35 cancer patients a week. "He had been
bringing in medication for "quite some time," according
to a complaint filed in court. Employees became suspicious of
the unauthorized drugs because Patwardhan would bring them in
Drugs are always kept in refrigerated containers.
One employee told investigators that Patwardhan traveled to India
three or four times a year and had been purchasing cancer medication
from there for six or seven years.
According to employee, he also had one person purchasing drugs
from Honduras and asked them to purchase drugs on trips to Canada
and the Philippines, the complaint states.
A Feb. 3 purchase shows $888,900 worth of medication.
August 15, 2008
UPLAND DOCTOR ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CHARGE OF BRINGING MISBRANDED
FOREIGN CANCER DRUGS INTO THE UNITED STATES
An Upland doctor who specialized in treating cancer patients
was arrested this morning by federal authorities after being charged
with introducing foreign misbranded drugs into interstate commerce
– drugs that according to some of his employees were sometimes
watered down when they were administered to his patients.
Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan, 58, who resides in Claremont,
was arrested this morning at his medical office on West Foothill
Boulevard in Upland. Patwardhan is named in a criminal complaint
unsealed this morning that alleges one count of delivering misbranded
drugs into interstate commerce.
The investigation into Patwardhan began in April after one of
his employees contacted authorities and said the doctor was bringing
drugs from India and Honduras into the United States for use on
his patients, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint.
During the subsequent investigation, several employees said they
saw foreign-made drugs that they knew were not approved for use
in the United States and that the drugs were brought into the
office in gym bags and shopping bags. The complaint also states
that some of his employees were aware that Patwardhan would administer
less than the full dosage of these drugs to some patients when
he injected the drugs into saline bags, which were then used to
administer the drugs to his patients via IV drip.
Investigators searched Patwardhan’s office on July 30,
recovering more than two dozen vials of unapproved drugs, according
to the complaint. During an interview on that day, Patwardhan
said that he had personally been travelling to India for “quite
some time” to bring unapproved drugs into the United States
and that he had another person bring unapproved drugs into the
United States from Honduras.
Patwardhan is expected to make his initial court appearance this
afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
The charge of delivering misbranded drugs into interstate commerce
with the intent to defraud or mislead carries a statutory maximum
penalty of three years in federal prison.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has
committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until
and unless proven guilty.
The investigation into Patwardhan is being conducted by the Office
of Criminal Investigation of the United States Food and Drug Administration
and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The case was
referred to these agencies by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.