Pharmacist accused of diluting chemotherapy drugs ordered held without bond
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A wealthy pharmacist accused of watering down chemotherapy drugs for profit was ordered held without bond Monday by a judge who said the suspect was a flight risk.
U.S. Magistrate Robert Larsen said he’s worried Robert Courtney, 48, might use his more than $10 million in assets to flee the country.
Referring to the five lawsuits already filed against Courtney, the magistrate said: ”I don’t know that there’s much here to hold you.”
Courtney is charged with a single count of dispensing misbranded and adulterated chemotherapy drugs. His attorney, Jean Paul Bradshaw II, has said he will plead innocent.
Courtney has allegedly acknowledged diluting medications for at least 30 to 35 patients, and authorities say the number could be higher. Larsen asked FBI Special Agent David E. Parker how many of those patients have died.
”At least one for sure,” said Parker, who did not provide details.
The FBI has raised the possibility of homicide charges if the dilutions are linked to any deaths.
Courtney has admitted diluting expensive cancer treatments ”out of greed,” according to prosecutors. Authorities claim diluting the drugs would have saved him hundreds of dollars per dose.
Porter also said the FBI is investigating claims that Courtney tried to move $2 million to an account in the Cayman Islands, and that he looked into buying a condominium on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Bradshaw said his client wasn’t preparing to flee when he traveled to St. Croix three weeks ago. Bradshaw waved Courtney’s passport in the air and told Larsen he was surrendering it on the spot.
He also said Courtney would surrender his pharmaceutical licenses from Missouri and Kansas and his federal drug permit.
FBI investigators are still sifting through medical records and trying to contact potential victims. More than 1,100 people have called an FBI hot line set up to locate victims.
Authorities say tests on intravenous drug bags mixed at Courtney’s Research Medical Tower Pharmacy showed between 39 percent and less than 1 percent of the drugs that had been prescribed. Prosecutors say Courtney reduced the strength of the chemotherapy drugs Gemzar, Taxol, Paraplatin and Platinol.
Larsen’s ruling came after Courtney’s wife and father talked about Courtney’s involvement in church and devotion to his five children and stepchildren.
”The only estimation I can give of my son, Robert Ray, is that he is an ideal son in every sense of the word,” said Courtney’s father, Robert L. Courtney, a retired Assemblies of God minister.
Bradshaw asked Courtney’s wife of eight years, Laura, ”Can you imagine that he would leave you and your children behind?”
”No,” she responded, tearfully. ”There’s just no way he could.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.