Pharmacist admits misbranding dialysis drugs

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) – A Tennessee pharmacist has admitted distributing a misbranded Chinese-made drug that was given to kidney dialysis patients in Kansas.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says 53-year-old Robert Harshbarger Jr., of Kingsport, Tenn., pleaded guilty Tuesday in Topeka to one count each of distributing a misbranded drug and health care fraud.

Harshbarger admitted that from 2004 to 2009, he substituted a cheaper Chinese import for an iron sucrose drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drugs were given to patients of Kansas Dialysis Services. Prosecutors say there were no reports of harm, but patients were put at risk because the FDA could not assure the drugs’ effectiveness and safety.

Harshbarger’s plea deal calls for four years in prison, restitution of nearly $849,000 and a forfeiture of $425,000.

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