Lawmakers are investigating three pharmaceutical companies for selling cancer drugs at nearly 100 times their cost. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, started the probe in October. Cancer drugs for testicular cancer, colon, and other cancers are in short supply, creating a shadowy but lucrative market for pharmaceutical companies.
According to the results of the probe so far, three pharmacies in North Carolina and Maryland purposefully diverted the cancer drugs from patients to drug wholesalers, who then resold the drugs at a steep cost. Wholesalers opened their own "sham pharmacies" to sell the drugs, and would mark prices up tenfold in some cases. For example, investigators discovered that Jessica Hoppe, the president of a drug wholesaler called International Pharmaceuticals Inc., applied to get a pharmacy license to sell drugs to long-term care facilities. However, instead of selling to long-term care facilties, she funneled drugs into her wholesale business within a day or two of ordering them for the pharmacy.
The Food and Drug Administration recently warned about the rising problem of prescription drug shortages, including anesthesia and nutrition medications. In fact, the number of drugs in short supply has risen from 56 in 2006 to 220 in 2011. Problems like the wholesale scammers only exacerbate this shortage, and the investigators have promised to look into 19 other possible sham pharmacies.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.