The FBI arrested 48 suspects in an undercover prescription drug sting in New Jersey and New York. The alleged fraud scheme involved the resale of “hundred of million of dollars” worth of prescription drugs, The New York Daily News reports. During a press conference earlier this afternoon Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the indictments of the 48 prescription drug fraud suspects.
The prescription drug scheme began in the New York City area where the medications were originally dispensed to Medicaid patients. According to details of the FBI drug sting, the prescription pills were then resold through “distribution channels” and wound up at regional pharmacies where the prescription medication were resold to unknowing consumers.
Prescription pills sold and resold in the alleged fraud scheme were not typical drugs of abuse, the medications were meant for the treatment of schizophrenia, HIV, asthma and other illnesses. The HIV prescription drug Atripla was popular with the suspects and has a Medication reimbursement value of $1,635 per bottle, according to the New York Daily News.
The prescription drug fraud scheme as outlined in the FBI indictments is described as a “daisy-chain” which begins with Medicaid recipients and ends with “aggregators” who in turn resale the prescription pills to via “underground distribution channels.” The prescription drug fraud ring cost the Medicaid programs millions of dollars for the reimbursement medications issued to recipients who claimed to have lost or not received their medications, according to statements from the FBI Health Care Fraud Task Force to NBC News. The massive prescription pill fraud investigation was a cooperative effort between the FBI NYPD, DEA and other local and state law enforcement agencies.
Suspects charged with prescription drug fraud allegedly joined in the scheme to buy medications from bodegas and on street corners throughout the New York City and specifically in the Bronx and Washington Heights areas. The drugs were then sold through “distribution channels” to “aggregators” to resale in Florida, Texas, Utah, Nevada and Alabama. Those “aggregators” then resold the drugs again to pharmacies and wholesale prescription drug centers in more than a dozen states.