Entries in Prescription Drugs (4)


Dozens Arrested In Massive Prescription Drug Scheme

US Department of Justice(NEW YORK) -- Four dozen people have been charged in one of the largest drug-diversion schemes ever, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.  It is estimated to have cost taxpayers a half-billion dollars.

“The defendants worked a fraud on Medicaid, a fraud on pharmaceutical companies, a fraud on legitimate pharmacies, a fraud on patients who unwittingly bought second-hand drugs and ultimately a fraud on the entire health care system,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The fraud started on the streets of New York where AIDS patients sold pricey drugs that they received for free through Medicaid.

“People with real ailments were induced to sell their medications on the cheap rather than take them as prescribed,” said Janice Fedarcyk, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI field office in New York.

Buyers would pay $50 for medicine that cost Medicaid $650 per bottle.

“In any population there may be people who, notwithstanding the fact that they need to take medication, are willing to sell that medication if they’re in dire straits,” Bharara said.

Over seven years, according to court documents, the criminals exploited the difference between the cost to the patient of obtaining the prescription drugs through Medicaid, which was usually nothing, and the hundreds of dollars per bottle that pharmacies paid to purchase those drugs to sell to their customers.

Authorities said they dismantled a “national, underground market” for some of the most expensive drugs available to treat HIV, schizophrenia and asthma.  The pills ended up in Texas, Florida, Nevada, Utah and Alabama.  From there they were resold to pharmacies across the country.

The FBI seized more than $16 million worth of second-hand prescription drugs, comprised of more than 33,000 bottles and more than 250,000 loose pills, kept in uncontrolled and sometimes egregious conditions.

“End users of the diverted drugs were getting second-hand medication that may have been mishandled, adulterated, improperly stored, repackaged and expired” Fedarcyk said.

In many cases authorities seized the drugs before they were sold to unsuspecting consumers but the FBI has asked anyone who may have purchased second-hand prescription drugs to call an FBI hotline at 212-384-3555.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CVS Releases Statement Regarding Drug Mistake

Comstock/Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHATHAM, N.J.) -- Parents in Chatham, N.J., are expressing outrage and concern after a CVS pharmacy mistakenly gave them a drug used to fight cancer instead of fluoride pills for their children’s teeth.

The parents who came to the CVS pharmacy on Main Street were actually bringing home tamoxifen—a powerful drug to fight breast cancer.

Somehow, the mix up went on undetected for at least two months and maybe longer.

“It’s something that’s very disheartening to see that happen and who knows what else they did wrong,” said parent Davin Clark.

For its part, CVS Caremark released this statement to ABC News:

“The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority and we are deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred at our Chatham, NJ pharmacy. Beginning last week, we have contacted or have left messages for every family whose child was dispensed a 0.5 mg fluoride prescription from our Chatham location within the past 60 days.

Fortunately, most of the families we have spoken to did not indicate that their children received any incorrect pills. We will continue to follow up with families who believe that their children may have ingested incorrect medication.

CVS/pharmacy has industry-leading pharmacy systems and processes designed to enhance the safety of the prescription filling process, including inventory controls that keep similar-looking medications in separate areas, such as fluoride tablets and tamoxifen. We are actively investigating this matter to determine how the mistake occurred in order to take corrective actions to prevent this from happening again.

Prescription errors are a rare occurrence, however since any process involving people is not immune from the possibility of human error, we are committed to continually improving quality measures to help ensure that prescriptions are dispensed safely and accurately.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Suspect in New York Pharmacy Murders Pleads Not Guilty

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MEDFORD, N.Y.) -- The man accused of slaying four people execution-style during a prescription drug robbery at a New York pharmacy this past weekend pleaded not guilty in court Thursday, ABC News New York affiliate WABC-TV reports.

David Laffer, 33, allegedly shot two employees and two customers at Haven Drugs in the Medford section of Long Island Sunday morning.  He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and resisting arrest.

Authorities believe Laffer committed the crimes to feed his drug addiction.

He and his wife, 29-year-old Melinda Brady, were arrested at their home on Wednesday.  Brady is charged with robbery and obstructing governmental administration.  She allegedly drove her husband to the pharmacy.

According to WABC-TV, Brady was admitted to a hospital Thursday for reasons unknown.  It is not yet known when she will be arraigned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DEA Raids Pill Mills in Florida and Arrests Doctors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- On Wednesday, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local police swept across South Florida, arresting individuals suspected of illegally prescribing painkillers and other prescription drugs to patients who often have nothing wrong with them.

The arrests were part of a yearlong probe that centered on Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties and involved undercover agents purchasing prescription drugs. Authorities say there are hundreds of pain clinics throughout the region that are involved in the illegal activity. The clinics are also known as "pill mills" because people come there to get prescriptions, often with no questions being asked.

"Thousands of people from all over the Eastern Seaboard are coming to South Florida to illegally buy prescription drugs," said DEA agent, Anthony Angeli. "People will come in vans, eight or ten people at a time. They get the scripts, and they go back."

Angeli said when they return home, the pills usually end up on the black market.

South Florida is ground zero in the nation's war against prescription drug abuse. State officials recently said that 85 percent of all oxycodone pills sold in the U.S. come from Florida and the top 50 medical prescribers of such drugs are located in the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20,000 people a year are dying from prescription drug overdose, including seven a day in Florida. Over the last decade the number of such deaths has more than tripled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio