Wife Says They Are
BY KEN LITTLE
A prominent Greeneville oncologist and his wife indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges connected to the alleged sale and administration of misbranded drugs strongly maintain their innocence.
Dr. Anindya K. Sen and his wife, Patricia Posey Sen, were named in a 38-count indictment on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S., 29 counts of introduction into interstate commerce of a misbranded drug, and seven counts of knowingly importing merchandise contrary to law.
Sen is managing physician and president of the East Tennessee Cancer & Blood Center (ETCBC), with offices at 1406 Tusculum Blvd. and in Johnson City. Patricia Sen, his wife, is ETCBC practice manager.
ETCBC is also named as a defendant.
'WE ARE NOT GUILTY'
"We are completely, totally innocent. We plan on pleading not guilty because we are not guilty," Patricia Sen said Thursday in a telephone interview.
Patricia Sen said she and her husband will fight the charges "tooth and nail."
Meanwhile, ETCBC's medical offices in Greeneville and Johnson City will remain open, Patricia Sen said.
"We're fighting it all the way. It's absolutely untrue," she said. "We feel we are the victims here. We're the victims, our employees are the victims, and our patients are the victims of a government that doesn't care."
The indictment handed up Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Greeneville said that, as part of the treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases, ETCBC bought "large amounts of assorted prescription drugs," including chemotherapy drugs, which were prescribed by Anindya Sen "and were administrated and dispensed through ETCBC."
The medical office then sought reimbursement from Medicare and TennCare Medicaid programs, along with other health benefit providers, according to the indictment.
The indictment states that the Sens purchased the drugs from a company in Alberta, Canada, called Clinical Care.
Clinical Care sold drugs "which had been obtained from foreign sources and which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution and use in the United States," the indictment said.
The Sens began ordering drugs from Clinical Care in April 2009, "and Clinical Care began shipping misbranded unapproved drugs to ETCBC," the indictment states.
The drugs came from foreign sources not inspected and approved by the FDA, the indictment states, "to include drugs which had been distributed in Turkey, India, the European Union, and elsewhere."
When nurses and other staff raised concerns that packaging for chemotherapy drugs purchased by ETCBC from Clinical Care had labeling in foreign languages, "establishing that the drugs were not approved for use in the United States, defendant Patricia Posey Sen told the staff that there were no problems with the drugs, or words to that effect," the indictment states.
OVER $3 MILLION
The indictment states that ETCBC obtained misbranded unapproved drugs from 2009 to March 2012, "purchasing over $3 million in (those drugs) and providing those drugs to their patients," the indictment states.
Medicare, TennCare and other benefits programs were then billed about $3.2 million, according to the indictment.
Drugs the government alleges were misbranded and administered to patients at ETCBC include Aloxi, Altuzan, Avastin, Bonviva, Mabthera, Neupogen and Venofer.
The indictment states that the purpose of the conspiracy for the defendants was to "unlawfully enrich themselves by, among other things, submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare, TennCare and other health benefit programs."
Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Neil Smith will prosecute for the government.
'VERY GOOD PHYSICIAN'
Patricia Sen emphasized in the interview Thursday that she and her husband are innocent. She said Anindya Sen has practiced medicine in Greeneville for more than 19 years and is dedicated to the well-being of his patients.
"Dr. Sen does not deserve it. Here's a very, very good physician who cares only about his patients," Patricia Sen said. "If they know Dr. Sen, they would know he's all about the patients.
"It's very, very upsetting for them to do this," she added. "We have every intention of fighting this tooth and nail."
Sen, 64, will continue to see all of his patients, including the many he treats who are uninsured, his wife said.
"We will be taking care of our patients as we always have. Any pharmaceuticals that we used are top-quality drugs. We never used anything but top quality," she said.
In an unrelated case involving misbranded drugs, a Johnson City doctor who treated cancer patients was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville to a two-year federal prison term.
William Ralph Kincaid, 68, entered a guilty plea in December 2012 to receiving misbranded drugs with intent to defraud or mislead in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
Some Greene County residents were among Kincaid's patients.
Smith also prosecuted the Kincaid case.