ST. LOUIS—Family members of a patient who died are demanding to know why a St. Louis-area cancer doctor who pleaded guilty to distributing unapproved chemotherapy drugs is still practicing medicine.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said 61-year-old Dr. Abid Nisar of Town and Country pleaded guilty in St. Louis on February 14 to introducing misbranded prescription drugs into interstate commerce.
While Illinois immediately suspended the license of Nisar, the cancer specialist is still operating out of his office in Florrisant, despite his guilty plea in federal court. He admits he did not tell his patients the source of the drugs he bought for more than $352,000, then sought medicare and medicaid reimbursement.
One of Nisar’s patients, Ellen Preston, died of a heart condition in June, 2011. In January, Preston’s family received a letter from Nisar warning the medicine he gave her to prevent bone cancer was not FDA approved.
“She was fine when she started taking it,” said Justin Meehan, the Prestons’ attorney. “(She was) full of energy, then she just needed help doing anything.”
Preston’s family has filed a complaint with the board of healing arts out of concern for other patients. Meehan says the family isn’t filing suit yet, but wants answers.
The family has no hard proof the drug caused Preston’s death. And the United States Attorney says he’s found no evidence yet.
“As far as we know at this time there was no harm to a patient that resulted. The evil here is that they were needlessly put at risk,” said Richard Callahan.
In the meantime, Nisar’s attorney says the doctor is still seeing patients at his north St. Louis County office on Graham Road.
Nisar is appealing his suspension in Illinois. Preston’s family is hoping other patients with simlar concerns will come forward to tell their stories.