Three whistleblower suits have unveiled a large scam involving unlawful repackaging and reselling of drugs by AmerisourceBergen Corporation. The lawsuits were filed by Michael Mullen, former Amerisource employee, Omni Healthcare Inc., an oncology practice, and pharmacy workers Daniel Sypula and Kelly Hodge. To resolve civil liability, the company settled for $625 million.
According to The Department of Justice, the wholesale medical company had been contaminating drugs, bribing, illegally labeling drugs, and creating sham patients for at least thirteen years, via a company named Medical Initiatives Inc., which shut down in 2014. This is not the first time Amerisource has been taken to court or forced to pay in relation to criminal activity. In 2017, it paid $260 million in a misbranded drugs case.
According to allegations, Medical Initiatives took part in a massive fraudulent scheme between 2001 and 2014. They purchased bottles of several drugs and transferred the drugs into prefilled syringes. Some of the drugs involved were Procrit, Aloxi, Kytril, Anzemet, and Neupogen. All these are used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. By selling those prefilled syringes, the company unlawfully produced more doses than it purchased, profiting to the tune of around $100 million.
Amerisource did not declare the prefilled syringe program in their audits, regulations, or policies. Moreover, they often failed to submit applications for new drugs and licenses to ensure and demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the drugs. Additionally, the company did not always obtain valid prescriptions and sometimes labeled prescriptions with names of bogus patients. Other allegations include the contamination of drugs, and their preparation in unsuitable, unsafe environments.
Another accusation resolved by the settlement is that the company coerced physicians into purchasing their commodities. Amerisource bribed doctors by means of pharmacy credits provided to the customer, which were anonymous and not properly invoiced.
According to United States Attorney Donoghue, Amerisource “placed corporate profits over patients’ needs, endangering the health of vulnerable cancer patients.”
Drug companies like Amerisource, which obscenely profit at the expense of the most vulnerable patients, should be held accountable for the physical and moral damage they cause. Thanks to a handful of courageous whistleblowers, Amerisource has, hopefully, learned it could not put patients at risk in the name of profits.