Spokesman for doctor, clinic responds to federal lawsuit

Becky Campbell • Jul 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM

A federal lawsuit filed last week claims a local oncologist used fake cancer drugs to treat a patient who later died.

A spokesman for the doctor and the clinic where he works — Dr. William Kincaid and McLeod Cancer and Blood Center — said there is no basis for the suit and the fake drugs identified by the Food and Drug Administration were never located there.

The FDA “confirmed to us the Avastin at the McLeod Center” was not part of the batch that was fake, said Tony Treadway, spokesman for McLeod.

Federal investigators found information that Montana Heathcare Solutions sold Avastin to 80 clinics in the United States. Some vials apparently contained a liquid with no cancer-fighting ingredients.

The FDA sent letters to those clinics alerting them of the potential danger.

“Two subsequent visits to the McLeod clinic by FDA representative found that the chemotherapy drug in the clinic’s inventory purchased from the supplier was not fake and there has been no subsequent report from the FDA that any of the medications from the supplier were either fake or ineffective in the treatment of the diseases they were intended for treatment of various cancers,” Treadway said.

“The clinic handed over all the medication it had that was purchased from Montana Healthcare Solutions,” Treadway said.

He also said the letter McLeod received did not claim the clinic actually purchased the fake drug, only that Montana had sold the fake drug to some of its customers.

The FDA conducted an investigation at McLeod earlier this year.

“The one vial they were worried about was not the lot number of the fake Avastin. It all had a certain lot number on the label,” Treadway said.

The federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ernest Lane Tribble by his attorney Wendal Jackson, of Bristol, asserts Kincaid administered medications “represented to be chemotherapy drugs” to Tribble’s wife.

Wanda Ruth Tribble died in November. Prior to that time — there was no specific date in the suit — she was diagnosed with breast cancer and under the care of Kincaid, who practices at McLeod Cancer and Blood Center.

The lawsuit does not name the chemotherapy drugs Wanda Tribble used, but it claims “they were harmful.”

In a phone interview Thursday, Jackson said he will have to abandon one claim that the drugs “were watered down,” as the lawsuit states.

“That is not substantiated,” he said of the watered-down medication claim, but he stands by the allegation that Wanda Tribble’s death was “proximately” caused by her taking the drug or drugs.

“Her life could have been saved with proper drugs, or at least prolonged,” the lawsuit states.

Tribble is asking for $10 million in compensatory damages and $1 in punitive damages.

Treadway said as soon as McLeod received the notice from the FDA about the possible fake Avastin, it was not used and there were no more purchases from Montana Healthcare Supplies.

According to Treadway, McLeod audited its purchases between 2007 and 2011 and only 3 percent of all medications bought during that time came from Montana Healthcare Solutions. That group was one of 20 the clinic used regularly during that time, he said.

Attorneys for the cancer center will soon file a motion in federal court asking the a judge to dismiss the case.

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