Thursday, July 19, 2012

Market forces

U.S. busts $108 million black market in Medicaid drugs

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK | Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:57pm EDT

(Reuters) - Operators of a nationwide black market have illegally sold more than $100 million of expensive HIV medications and other drugs obtained from patients on the government-run Medicaid health insurance plan, U.S. authorities said on Tuesday.

Four dozen people were charged in documents unsealed in Manhattan federal court with running a scheme to repackage and sell medication bought on the street from recipients of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor and disabled.

Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that Medicaid beneficiaries, some of them AIDS patients, would fill their monthly prescriptions at little or no cost only to immediately sell the drugs for cash to aggregators.

The aggregators then altered the drug containers to make them appear new and sold the medicines through an underground distribution market to pharmacists, who would buy the drugs at discounts, the authorities said.

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