Derek Ray 5:51 p.m., May 19
La Jolla oncologist pleads guilty to importing unapproved drug
Dr. Joel L. Bernstein brought in Turkish version of Rituxan, billed Medicare
The U.S. Attorney's office announced today (Jan. 23) that La Jolla oncologist Dr. Joel I. Bernstein pleaded guilty to introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce. He also pleaded guilty to health care fraud. The drug was Turkey's Mabthera, which has the same active ingredient as Rituxan, which is used to treat non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and other cancers. Rituxan was originally developed in San Diego by IDEC Pharmaceuticals, now part of Biogen Idec of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bernstein was released pending sentencing, scheduled for April 16 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal. Bernstein's medical practice also pleaded guilty to the offenses.