Unapproved meds snare local doctor

CALCUTTA – A local doctor is awaiting sentencing in federal court after pleading guilty to importing medications which had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Ranjan Bhandari, 56, whose offices are located on St. Clair Avenue, pleaded guilty Aug. 29 to one count of misbranding in federal magistrate court in Akron and will be sentenced during a hearing on Nov. 11, according to court personnel.

Bhandari and six other oncologists from around the state were charged after reportedly having shipped from Canada such cancer treatment medications as Zometa, Kytril, Taxotere, Gemzar and Eloxatin.

They were charged in criminal informations rather than grand jury indictments.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettlebach did not return a call for comment but was quoted in another published report as saying his office is committed to working with its partners to make sure patients are receiving medicine that has been properly inspected.

The American Medical Association did not return requested information on the status of Bhandari’s medical license, and a call to Ken Cochran, CEO/President of East Liverpool City Hospital, seeking comment on whether or not the oncologist is practicing at the hospital, was not returned Tuesday.

Bhandari had been associated with the Tri-State Cancer Center in downtown East Liverpool but the phone number for that facility had been disconnected and it was not immediately clear if it is still in operation.