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Thursday, July 19, 2012
by James Swann
Americans have long had confidence in their pharmacies to dispense brand-new, and safe, prescription drugs. That confidence has suffered a blow, courtesy of a fraud scheme that was recently uncovered in New York City. According to charges filed against 48 individuals, Medicaid patients were filling prescriptions for expensive medications and then immediately selling them to criminals, who in turn sold them to corrupt drug distribution networks. From there, the drugs made their way back into pharmacies and were re-sold to unsuspecting patients.
The drugs involved in the scheme covered a number of conditions, including AIDS, schizophrenia, and asthma, and Medicaid is out $500 million in reimbursements as a result. In addition, patient safety has been implicated. After buying the prescription drugs, criminals used toxic lighter fluid to remove any labels with patient identification information, and often altered the expiration date. Drugs were also stored in car trunks, storage lockers and other unsuitable locations prior to being re-sold to pharmacies, which may have compromised their efficacy.
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