The sentencing hearing for Dr. Farid Fata began yesterday in Detroit. The Oakland County doctor is on his way to prison after mistreating patients and bilking insurance companies. Opting for a life of luxury with a fraud, money laundering and conspiracy scheme this cancer doc canceled ethics in his practice.
Fata, age 50, pleaded guilty to those charges last fall after the shocking truth of his behavior was exposed. The government wants a 175-year sentence, while Dr. Fathead only wants 25.
According to expert witness testimony, Fata gave his patients “stunning” doses of a very expensive and very powerful drug, Rituximab. The overuse of this drug has left these people exposed to life-threatening infections and other serious health issues. Some of these patients, it turns out, didn’t even have cancer in the first place.
Dr. Dan Longo, deputy editor at the New England Journal of Medicine and a Harvard medical professor, was the expert witness at the hearing. Dr. Longo testified, “There is an aggressive approach to treating cancer. This was beyond. This was over the top.” Many of Fata’s former patients and their family members – dressed in somber black – chartered a bus at $35.00 a seat just to attend. Some will testify.
The government has identified 553 of Fata’s victims and four insurance companies. The fraudulent doc administered over 9,000 unnecessary infusions or injections. Typically, Rituximab is used to treat aggressive lymphoma. The drug is limited to eight doses as it can severely weaken the immune system if used in greater amounts.
One of Dr. Fathead’s patients received the drug 94 times and another 76 times. Said Dr. Longo, “It’s a stunning number of injections of that drug … That creates a susceptibility to infectious agents of various sorts.” Of the 25 files Dr. Longo reviewed, he told the court, “all the files I looked at had problems, but I would not say all the treatment was inappropriate.”
No. Just the 80+ extra injections received by one patient alone.
Dr. Fathead’s patients harbor a great deal of anger toward the man. Understandably so. Terry Spurlock, age 52, one of the approximately 36 former patients and family members to attend the hearing, said, “This is a small fraction of the people this guy has hurt. He gave me so much treatment, it stopped my immune system.” Mr. Spurlock’s neck tumor disappeared, but Dr. Fata continued treatment for three more years.
Geraldine Parkin, the organizer behind the bus trip and the wife of one of Fata’s patients, said, “I wanted to knock that smirk off his face,” in reference to the doctor. Mrs. Parkin’s husband, Tim, may have survived his bout with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but he is left with many other chronic health problems as a result of overtreatment.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I am a staunch advocate for patients’ rights. When it comes to cancer patients, I become fierce in my advocacy. My mother battled breast cancer twice before she died from complications of treatment. Nothing like the “treatment” these innocent people received at the hands of the butcher, Fata, though.
Knowing what cancer patients face, both from being at my Mom’s side and from interacting with other patients, I am beyond livid at the callous, coldhearted cruelty exhibited by Dr. Farid Fata. Not only did he create more difficulties for patients already fighting for their very lives, he treated those who weren’t even sick! He took healthy people, tossed them onto one of the most terrifying rollercoasters of all and then gave them real medical problems.
Though I don’t have any personal connection with any of his patients or their families, I will never forgive the butcher Fata for what he’s done. It may seem draconian, but personally, I would like to see Dr. Fathead get his request for a 25-year sentence granted. And then, every month for the next 25 years, I would like to see him receive a Rituximab injection. Let the butcher of hope and health feel the pain he’s caused others.