North Carolina ophthalmologist pleads guilty to using misbranded medication

An ophthalmologist who owned a Charlotte, N.C.-based practice has pleaded guilty to using misbranded medication, the U.S. Justice Department said Oct. 5.

James Heroman, MD, was the owner of the now-closed Carolina Retina and Vitreous Consultants. According to a Justice Department news release, he caused the practice to order an unapproved, foreign and cheaper drug to treat patients with macular degeneration.

Dr. Heroman admitted that he purchased the drug instead of the FDA-approved Lucentis because it was cheaper, caused the practice to bill Medicare for the approved drug and kept the price difference for himself.

As part of a civil settlement, Dr. Heroman and the Carolina Retina and Vitreous Consultants will pay $450,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for the nonreimbursable drug.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. Dr. Heroman faces a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for receiving and delivering the misbranded medication.

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