Dr. under investigation for flu vaccines - What is your opinion?

  1. Was curious to see what others are thinking regarding the Doctor who obtained the flu vaccine from Canada. I think that the board is taking this too far, personally. I get a bit ruffled when the board seems to have so much control over people trying to help others, rather than going after the rats that really are a risk to society.
    What are your thoughts?

    Here is the article:

    Article published Mar 1, 2005
    Panel urges action over Canadian flu shots

    An Ocala internist who gave unlicensed flu shots to elderly patients last fall plans to fight disciplinary action by the state' board of medicine, and he hopes the community will join him.

    Dr. Hanimi Challa could face sanctions ranging from fines to suspension or revocation of his medical license, according to an administrative complaint released Monday by Department of Health Secretary John Agwunobi.

    The sanctions, which will be considered by the Board of Medicine at a later date, are based on the recommendation of a three-member probable cause panel that met Feb. 18 in Tallahassee.

    "This is outrageous. . . . This is garbage," said Challa, who waived confidentiality in order to receive a copy of the complaint three days prior to its public release. "They are going to go after me. They have been going after me. . . . I just feel so sad about these people and what they're trying to accomplish."

    Challa, who is board certified and specializes in geriatric medicine, has been a doctor for 23 years without complaint. His medical license has been restricted since January by a Department of Health emergency order, which prohibits Challa from administering,
    dispensing, injecting, mixing or otherwise preparing legend drugs, pending the outcome of the state board's disciplinary action. A legend drug is one that is labeled "Caution: federal law prohibits dispensing without a prescription."

    Facing a nationwide shortage of flu vaccines, Challa administered 4,000 flu vaccines at his TimberRidge office to at-risk residents who couldn't obtain them elsewhere, including scores of elderly patients at assisted living facilities.

    According to the Department of Health's two-count complaint, which was signed by Agwunobi on Feb. 21, Challa obtained Vaxigrip and Fluviral vaccines from Health Pharmacy 2000, a Canadian pharmacy that isn't registered or authorized to distribute prescription drugs in Florida.

    The Vaxigrip flu vaccines were manufactured in France by Aventis Pasteur, the pharmaceutical giant that provides half the U.S. supply. Fluviral is made in Canada by Shire Biologics, a British company that sold its vaccine division in September to ID Biomedical-the same company federal health officials were negotiating with to offset the country's shortage of flu vaccine.

    Neither vaccine is licensed for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, though Fluviral has since been cleared by the FDA for clinical testing.

    "I'm going to fight it," Challa said. "There was no malice. Ignorance should be punished, probably, yes, but I did not intentionally violate a law. I benefitted the community."

    Challa was set to administer 2,000 additional doses of the flu vaccine in December, when they were impounded by the state based on an anonymous complaint to the FDA. Though the vaccines proved sound through the testing of 21 random samples, the Department of Health now wants Challa to destroy the remaining doses.

    "It boils my blood," Challa said, noting that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest report, there is now a widespread outbreak of flu throughout Florida. "We still have 2,000 doses. Why throw them in the garbage?"

    There has been an outpouring of community support for the doctor since word of his troubles first became news.

    In addition to scores of letters and telephone calls, more than 100 supporters rallied around Challa at his office on Feb. 19-the day after the probable cause panel recommended further disciplinary action.

    Department of Health spokeswoman Lindsey Hodges could not be reached for comment Monday. However, she has said the impact of such community support remains to be seen, though "obviously the physician has the opportunity to present his side."

    Challa wants to bolster his side with even greater community support and said he hopes 1,000 people or more demand release of the impounded vaccines at a "huge rally" planned for 10 a.m. March 19 at his office.

    "If there are enough people demanding the vaccines, we'll have to get them released, but we'll give it to them," he said. "If there is any way they can get the flu shots, they will still benefit. The flu season isn't over until May."
  2. Visit Monica RN,BSN profile page

    About Monica RN,BSN

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  3. by   canoehead
    The flu shots are manufactured in one of two sites, both of which are able to sell to the USA. But they happened to be sold to Canada (which had a surplus of vaccines), and he brought them down to be administered to people in need. So no one was in danger, he did what a few hundred other companies are doing, seems like he is just the guy that got caught and punished.
  4. by   Tweety
    I understand why the rules are in place. But just don't understand this case and why they would go after this doctor. Seems like a waste of good time on a good doctor.
  5. by   CrunchRN
    Stupid...stupid...stupid - as a geriatrician he knew what risk his frail elderly patients had if not able to get vaccine. He should be lauded for going out on a limb for his patients. This is just typical of the things that are so depressing in this profession. Do this to the doctors who give sub-standard care and botch plastic surgeries. Not to someone who is helping. It isn't his fault the government botched the whole flu vaccine mess.............
  6. by   Monica RN,BSN
    Thanks for replying. I also think the Board of medicine got too crazy with this as well.