- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - An Illinois doctor may lose her license for allegedly putting unknowing patients at risk by giving them cheap, imported cancer drugs in violation of federal law.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation temporarily suspended the medical license of Ann Kinnealey of Evanston last week. The state medical board is scheduled to hear the case April 21 in Chicago.

Kinnealey, an oncologist, is accused of purchasing nearly $1 million worth of misbranded drugs over four years from Canada-based Quality Specialty Products, a company tied in 2012 to counterfeit versions of the intravenous cancer drug Avastin.

In court filings, investigators said she didn’t inform her patients she bought discount drugs. She knew some of the drugs appeared to come from Eastern European countries because of foreign languages on the labels, the filings state.

She kept buying the discount drugs even after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detained shipments to her in 2009 and notified her they appeared to violate the law, according to the documents. Her orders continued through early 2012.

Phone messages left for Kinnealey and her attorney were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago said in an email that Kinnealey is “on a leave of absence from our organization.”

Regulators are not claiming any patients were harmed, and fake Avastin isn’t mentioned among the drugs shipped to Kinnealey.

The Illinois action follows a criminal investigation of Kinnealey by the FDA. Kinnealey agreed to pay approximately $129,000 in restitution to defer prosecution in that case. The FDA has prosecuted other cancer doctors in similar cases, including physicians in California, Tennessee, Ohio and Texas.

Kinnealey purchased misbranded drugs from 2008 through early 2012, paying about 25 percent less than she would have paid an approved supplier, according to the agreement Kinnealey signed Dec. 2 of last year.

She received about $514,000 from Medicare as reimbursement for the misbranded drugs, the document states.

Authorities haven’t said whether they think she was profiting from the cost difference. Kinnealey “acknowledged that the high cost of oncology medications affects her business,” Illinois regulators stated in a filing.

Kinnealey also is accused of failing to disclose the complaint against her license when she applied to renew her Drug Enforcement Administration registration number in November.

The Swedish Covenant Hospital’s website includes a video of Kinnealey talking about her practice.

“I pay attention to all the details,” she says in the video. “I will take action on behalf of the patient.”

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Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson at https://twitter.com/CarlaKJohnson


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