Federal prosecutors have charged 48 people in a massive Medicaid drug fraud scheme that cost taxpayers upwards of $500 million. The fraud allegedly involved Medicaid recipients who were prescribed expensive medications who sold their drugs to third-parties for cash. The third-parties then sold the drugs to unwitting pharmacies and wholesalers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania , Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Utah, Nevada, Louisiana, and Alabama. The drugs were then sold to patients who were unaware of the scheme or the source of their second-hand medications.
Many of the prescription medications that were illegally diverted were not controlled, stored, or maintained properly. The drugs were also subject to repackaging and some may have expired by the time patients received them.
The drugs seized included 33,000 bottles of drugs and more than 250,000 loose pills, valued at more than $16 million. Emails seized from some of those arrested indicated that they had handled more the $62 million worth of the diverted medications over a period of about one year.
The safety of our nation’s drug supply is a critical issue that must be addressed forcefully and promptly when any questions arise as to the safety of over-the-counter or prescription medications. Issues may arise with regard to the manufacture of medications (such as the source and purity of the ingredients of medications or the cleanliness and proper manufacturing processes employed by manufacturing facilities), the storage of medications (the security of storage facilities must be constantly monitored and maintained with access limited to authorized personnel only, and drugs must be stored in their proper containers and at the proper temperature and humidity), and the distribution of medications (only authorized and appropriate distributors who can monitor and guarantee the safety and efficacy of our nation’s drug supplies must be in control of the entire distribution chain in order to insure that drugs are not diverted, diluted, or disrupted in any manner before they reach the people who they are intended to reach).
Counterfeit drugs and second-hand drugs that may not contain the genuine and appropriate ingredients in the proper amounts and proportions or that may be beyond their shelf-life (expired) or stored incorrectly may not only fail to perform in the manner intended when prescribed to patients, but the patients’ safety and quality of life may be risked or ruined. Most patients are unable to tell by examining their medications received from their pharmacies or prescribers if they are genuine and fresh, especially if the medications dispensed may be generic versions of name-brand drugs that appear physically different from the brand-name drugs for which they are substituted.
In today’s environment, when many necessary and common drugs are in short supply for various reasons, distributors and pharmacies alike may be inclined to purchase their drug supplies from sources that were previously unfamiliar to them. Likewise, patients who need their medications to maintain their present quality of life may not question or care where their medications come from, as long as they are available to them when they need them.
Under such circumstances, it is necessary for the appropriate federal and state authorities to remain vigilant and to investigate any possible issues with drug supplies in the United States so that our drugs remain as pure and safe as possible.
If you have suffered injuries due to a counterfeit medication, a bad drug, or an unexpected result of taking a medication, you should consult with a local medical malpractice attorney to determine if you may have a claim for your injuries.
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