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Contraindications: Dr. Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan

Contraindications: Dr. Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan

Picture of William Heisel

Anyone who has helped a friend or family member undergo cancer treatment knows the fear and frustration that can consume a patient's life. There are new, experimental treatments being touted every year, many of them only available outside of the United States.

So when Dr. Vinod Chandrashekm Patwardhan (California License No. 29318) offered drugs made in India, Honduras, Panama and the Philippines to his cancer patients in the Southern Calif. communities of Chino and Upland, one might assume he was trying his damndest to give them the treatments they desperately needed.

Except they did not know these drugs were anything but FDA-approved drugs purchased in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Their insurance companies thought the same thing.

On May 8, Patwardhan, 66, was convicted by a jury in federal court in Riverside of conspiracy, two counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, and three counts of smuggling. He faces up to 71 years in prison.

The justice department said the doctor and his employees started smuggling drugs as early as 2004. By the time of his arrest in August 2008, he had brought in more than $1.3 million worth of unapproved drugs.

Why?

Money, of course.

"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 foreign drugs," the justice department wrote.

It all would have continued to work nicely, too, if his employees had decided to stick to the script. Instead, one of them dropped a dime on Parwardhan. Soon, the FDA was on the case, the Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It's not clear whether the feds let the Medical Board of California in on their party. Patwardhan had a few run-ins with the board in the 1980s and completed probation on an incompetence case in 1990. But, as of now, he is still licensed to practice medicine in California.

Cancer patients can be forgiven for trying everything within their means to beat the disease. But they deserve to know what they are being given and why.

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Excerpt from recent decision of Dept of Health and Human Services Adm Law Judge Carolyn Hughes on Dr's motivation(Petitioner here aka Vinod C Patwardhan):

On page 5...
Sentencing Judge Virginia A. Phillips characterized Petitioner’s history as “a lifetime of service to his profession and the provision of medical care without regard to his patient’s ability to pay for it.” P. Ex. 2 at 18, 33; accord P. Ex. 3 at 12. He treated patients “without much regard for reimbursement.” However, beginning in 1997, changes in reimbursement policies put his practice in financial difficulty. P. Ex. 2 at 16. When visiting family in India, Petitioner volunteered to treat patients, usually without charge. P. Ex. 2 at 20. Because the medications were so much cheaper there, he began purchasing them at an Indian pharmacy and taking them back to the United States, where he administered them to his patients, many of whom were indigent and could not afford to pay. P. Ex. 2 at 16; P. Ex. 3 at 10. These were the same drugs he used in treating patients in India. P. Ex. 2 at 16. Petitioner subsequently expanded that practice to other countries and involved some of his employees. Judge Phillips found it “impossible” to view his crime as one that was motivated by greed. P. Ex. 2 at 18.

And on page 7...

Petitioner is not typical of the convicted felons excluded from program participation. That he was motivated by misguided altruism is well-established by the record before me. Both the criminal trial judge and the state licensing judge agreed that he poses no risk to his patients and virtually no risk to program integrity.

Dr. Pat is a wonderful, caring physician. Remember that you're talking about human beings in your investigative reporting Mr. Heisel and, as much as we'd like it to be, not everything is black and white...

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i was on the herceptin trial 3rd arm at the city of hope 2001-2002 and began as trial subject before the the fda's stamp of approval. herceptin was approved sept 2002. we aimed for cure in this trial.
i am 11 year survivor of invasive infiltrating ductal carcinoma breast cancer stage 2b/3a Her2nu positive.. at that time, herceptin was touted as the biggest breakthru in breast cancer research history in 20 years.
i came home early and am blessed to have Dr. Vinrod Patwardhan as my oncologist and i need to say that he is a hero and the most caring and compassionate person i have the priviledge of knowing. i color outside the lines...you may say i am a dreamer...if you really don't believe this can be done, could you please, at least, stand out of the way of those of us... who are doing it?

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My sister has been recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Negative Invasive infiltrating ductal carsinoma breast cancer. She went to her primary doctor back in June of 2013 and after so many delays and waiting between the primary doctor and the surgeon who performed the Biopsy, she was finally referred to Dr. Vinod. He checked her and draw blood, checked her heart and sent her to other necessary test within a couple days. He started her Chemo treatment right away..... These are the things that you as a patient and family members appreciate. Dr. Vinod did what he needed to do a couple day, while the other doctos took almost 5 months to do. Everytime he sees my sister and us, her family, he gives us hope, he never talks about negative outcomes and explains everything in details and takes all the time in the world with us until we understand what he's doing. All the negative reviews I have read about Dr. Vinod is about the drugs he smuggled, maybe it's about time you write about the wonderful lives he has saved because he's a smart and bright Oncologist who truly cares about other people's lives. I hate to say this in writing, but if the choice would be use a medice that would save my sister's life came from another country, my sister and my family would not think it twice to use it. We go through many stages after a love one is dignosed with cancer... first, you are scare, you are hurting for your loved one, you cry, you are mad, you feel guilty, you wish you could make eveything go away, but you can't, you wish you had the right answer as to why?, but you don't have it, I even wished it was me and not my sister, but it's not me. So now you tell me, what would you do if you had to make a choice?

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My 43 year old sister was dignosed with Negative invasive infiltrating ductal carsinoma breast cancer on November 11, 2013. It took almost 5 months from her primary physician to refer her to a surgeon for the biopsy and confirm it was cancer. Dr. Vinod saw my sister on November 11 and with lots of compasion and care, he examined my sister and told us the news. Right after he examined, he orderd the blood tests, checked her heart, and ordered all necessary tests to start her Chemo treatment right away. It took Dr. Vinod less than week to start her treatment and I wonder why the other doctor took almost 5 months for a referral? Maybe it was wrong that he brought drugs from another countries, but does it make it wrong, if he saved many lives with these drugs? There are so many untested drugs that could save so many lives out there and are being used in other countries, but because of bureaucracy and money, the patient is not allow to choose what medication they want to use. Many cancer patients travel to other countries to be treated since they can't get what they need here, so you tell me, what is wrong? Is it wrong to want to live? Is it wrong to try any treatment posible even if it is not FDA approved, but deep inside you know that this could be your only chance you or loved one has?
You probably don't even know what is like when the Oncologist tells you loved one she has cancer, you go through anger, sadness, guilty, you ask yourself why, but you don't have an answer, you wish you could ease their pain, but you can't because they are hurting, I even wished it was me who had the cancer so she wouldn't suffer, but It is not me.....
I can tell you that if my sister has to choose a medication that is not FDA approved, but would save her life, she would choose it without thinking it twice.
It amazes me how greedy we are, we care more about what he charged the insurance companies, but don't care how many lives he has probably saved. This is not about Dr. Vinod, this is about all the cancer patients and their families, we should have the right to choose what medication and treatment we want, not what the FDA says is good for us.

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