Judge grants delay in Miss. cancer clinic case 

A federal judge has granted a request to delay the trial of a doctor and two employees charged in an alleged scheme to dilute cancer drugs and use old syringes on multiple patients.

Dr. Meera Sachdeva, Brittany McCoskey and Monica Weeks had been scheduled for trial Feb. 7. U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan signed an order last week pushing the trial back to May 2.

All three have pleaded not guilty. The women's attorneys wanted more time to review thousands of pages of information related to the case.

Sachdeva, founder of Rose Cancer Center in Summit, has been held without bond since August on charges of diluting drugs and billing Medicaid and Medicare for more chemotherapy than patients were given.

McCoskey and Weeks are free on bond. Sachdeva was ordered held without bond after prosecutors argued that she could flee the country. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen from India. Prosecutors said she often traveled overseas and has considerable assets, including bank accounts, in her native country, despite the seizure of about $6 million.

The Mississippi Health Department closed the Rose Cancer Center in July 2011 because of "unsafe infection control practices" and has tested hundreds of patients for HIV and other diseases because of concerns about dirty needles after 11 patients went to hospitals with the same bacterial infection.

Federal and state authorities have said old needles were used on multiple patients, but a civil lawsuit contained the first public allegation filed in court that someone contracted a disease like HIV.

That lawsuit claims James Ralph Patterson Sr. went to the clinic for treatment of his brain and lung cancer but ended up getting watered-down drugs and was infected with HIV by an old needle. Patterson died July 3 at the age of 61. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of Patterson's son, and it's is one of several suits filed in Pike County Circuit Court by Jackson attorneys John Giddens and Philip Thomas.

Sachdeva established the clinic in south Mississippi in 2005 and billed Medicaid and Medicare for about $15.1 million during the alleged scheme. Prosecutors say Sachdeva gave patients less chemotherapy or cheaper drugs than they were told, while billing Medicaid and Medicare for more. Prosecutors also say the clinic billed for new syringes for each patient even though it reused some on multiple people.

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