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A Southern California physician has been found guilty of 26 felony charges for fraudulently distributing an unapproved cancer treatment over a six-year period, charging up to $2,000 per bottle.

Benedict Liao, 81, a.k.a. “Wada Masao,” and “Masao A. Wada,” of Fullerton, was found guilty of seven counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of selling a misbranded drug and eight counts of selling an unapproved new drug.

According to evidence presented at his five-day trial, Liao operated the Oeyama-Moto Cancer Research Foundation, which had offices in Monterey Park and, later, in West Covina.

Using the alias “Masao A. Wada, M.D.” Liao submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and 2012 an Investigational New Drug (IND) application in which he stated that he planned to engage in clinical trials of a product called Allesgen, which he told FDA and stated in promotional material was intended to treat and cure many types of cancer. FDA received these applications and both times informed Liao that the IND applications for Allesgen had been placed on a full clinical hold due to deficiencies in the submissions.

The FDA required that a drug distributed under an IND application bear a label stating that it was a “New Drug – Limited by Federal law to investigational use” and Liao told FDA that he would place a label on Allesgen with such a statement.

Instead of doing so, Liao manufactured Allesgen in Fullerton and distributed the unapproved drug with a label calling Allesgen a “supplement,” not a drug, and this label stated that it “had not been evaluated by the FDA” and was not intended to treat any disease.

Liao sold and distributed Allesgen at a price generally set at $2,000 per bottle, plus shipping, to customers in various states and in foreign countries. Over the years he received approximately $1,600,,000 in revenue from this enterprise.

The jury found that Liao schemed to defraud buyers of Allesgen by failing to inform them it was not an approved cancer treatment, that FDA had placed it on hold, barring any distribution of it, that he was not allowed to charge anything for it, and that it could have side effects that were unpredictable and could be serious.

Liao remains free, and his sentencing is scheduled for February 2022. According to federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a maximum prison sentence of nearly 200 years. Sentences in wire fraud cases are often connected to the amount of money involved, though Liao is unlikely to do much time at all due to his advanced age and poor health.