SAN DIEGO - Alvarado Pharmacy and its owner have pleaded guilty this week to healthcare fraud charges involving the illegal importation and sale of unapproved cancer drugs to Medicare patients in San Diego.
The corporation and its owner, William Burdine, of Spring Valley, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court before Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California.
Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 21.
In its plea, the corporation admitted that between May 2010 and June 2011, it ordered $752,688 in prescription oncology drugs from a Canadian distributor. The drugs ordered were unapproved versions of drugs sold in the United States, such as Avastin, Eloxatin, Gemzar, Neupogen, Rituxin, Taxotere and Zometa.
Alvarado Pharmacy further admitted that it supplied the drugs to physicians in such a ways as the doctors did not know they were giving their patients unapproved prescriptions. The physicians then billed Medicare on behalf of their Medicare patients for the prescriptions as if they were approved in the United States, unknowingly defrauding Medicare out of $1 million.
Burdine, a pharmacists licensed in California, also pleaded guilty to unlawfully importing the unapproved oncology drugs into the United States from Canada.
As an individual, Burdine faces 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. The Alvarado Pharmacy corporation faces five years probation, a $500,000 fine and a $400 special assessment.