By Patti Bridges, Staff Writer, St. Petersburg Evening Independent
One of six St. Petersburg doctors indicted by federal officials in Atlanta Tuesday as the result of an FBI “sting” operation today denied any wrongdoing.
“We’re very small fish caught in a very big net,” said Dr. Robert M. Kilmark, who has been practicing medicine in St. Petersburg since 1951. Kilmark said he didn’t sell sample drugs and never received any payment for the drugs.
Three corporations and 48 people in 11 states were charged after a nationwide undercover investigation run from a phony Atlanta hospital management firm called “Pharmoney.”
Charges involve prescription drugs which FBI agents say were diverted from the legal distribution system. Agents seized $620,000 worth of drugs in raids in the Southeast and in California and brought charges against seven doctors and the head of a pharmaceutical firm in Florida, as well as persons in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, California, New York, Ohio and Tennessee.
Those indicted from St. Petersburg are: Kilmark, Dr. Richard M. Anderson, Dr. Gary Dresden, Dr. John A. Ray, Dr. Harold Ticktin and Dr. Bruce Walker. Only Kilmark and Ray could be reached for comment this morning. Ray said he could not comment on advice from his lawyer.
Kilmark is an internist; Anderson, Ticktin and Dresden are gynecologists; Walker and Ray are family practitioners.
All six are charged with conspiracy to adulterate or misbrand drugs. The charges involve sample drugs which routinely are given to doctors by drug companies. It is common practice for doctors to give such samples to patients or to charitable medical organizations, such as the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. But doctors are not allowed to sell the samples, said representatives of the Pinellas County Medical Society.
Dr. Robert Dawson, society president, laid he was “shocked” to see the doctors’ names in reports.
“They’re all ethical physicians who have never given us any trouble,” said Dawson. He expressed concern that the indictment might stop drug firms from giving samples to doctors. The samples are a boon to low income patients who need expensive drugs, said Dawson.
Kilmark said a local pharmacist suggested that he allow a man known to Kilmark only as “Mr. Morrell” to take Kilmark’s sample drugs to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. Kilmark agreed. But, he said, he learned that some or the drugs weren’t being delivered to the clinic.
Kilmark laid he immediately contacted “Morrell” and told him he would deliver his, own ‘ samples to the clinic in the future. This happened in September and October of last year, said Kilmark. He said he never received any payment for the sample.
Among the six, Dr. Richard Anderson was the best known to his colleagues. Anderson, 66, ended his gynecology and obstetrics practice here in June and moved to Cortez, Colorado. He had practiced in St. Petersburg since 1961. Anderson was chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Bayfront Medical Center and director of the hospital residency program in obstetrics and gynecology until he resigned in May. He also is a former member of the medical society’s board of governors. Efforts to reach him in Colorado were unsuccessful.