COMMENTS: Canadian Chemo

Across the country, CBS' Sharyl Attkisson claimed, there are 100 oncologists who are buying discount chemotherapy drugs from a pharmacy in Texas that is the distribution arm for a Canadian firm. In Canada, an ovarian cancer drug such as Topotecan, Attkisson explained, costs $2930 a dose; in the United States the dose costs $4200.

So far so good. After that, Attkisson's Follow the Money report was notable for the information it lacked.

She told us that the FBI is investigating which price the pharmacy's customers are using to bill Medicare and Medicaid for the treatments. So far a single physician, Kee Shum of New York City, has been ordered to pay back $275,000 in excess billing yet even he is not admitting any wrongdoing. "There are still lots of loose ends," Attkisson conceded. Her unnamed sources--she just called them "US officials"--would not tell her whether any of the other 99 physicians is being investigated "or if the Canadian pharmacy violated any laws." Attkisson did not even tell us the name of the Canadian firm. As for the safety of the chemo medicines, "there is no way to know if patients have been hurt."


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