Last month the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman announced the conviction of a pharmacist who illegally sold black market HIB medications. The pharmacist Ira Grossman was found guilty of distributing HIV medication illegally obtained from the black market to patients and faced a prison sentence of 8 to 25 years.
Medicaid and other insurers were illegally billed $274 million through this crooked scheme using these black market meds. The meds were dispensed from MOMS pharmacy’s online pharmacy in Melville New York with satellite pharmacies in Manhattan, Brooklyn and other states. The supervising pharmacist for MOMS, Glenn Schabel pled guilty in March 2016.
“The perpetrators of this complex scheme not only cheated the state Medicaid program out of millions of dollars, but preyed on some of New York’s most vulnerable patients just to make a quick buck” said Attorney General Schneiderman. Dispensing diverted medications endangers the lives of patients by exposing them to drugs of unknown origin and potency and, in some cases, drugs which were mislabeled or potentially expired.
While this abhorrent scam happened in New York, make NO MISTAKE it is happening in your area too. Unscrupulous pharmacists and pharmacy owners are preying on people living with HIV by inducing, coercing and providing kickbacks to PLWH to use their pharmacies,
These monsters know nothing about HIV, are not experts in the field and are not out there to help you. They are there to help themselves scam, lie, cheat and engage in illegal behaviors that make them profit off you. It is so important that you Know Your Pharmacist Know Your Pharmacy.
Here are some red flags that something is off:
- The pharmacy offers to pay you to switch to their pharmacy
- The pharmacy offers to give you a cell phone or iPad to use their pharmacy
- The pharmacy offers to pay your cell phone bill every moth you use their pharmacy
- The pharmacy offers to pay your rent or other financial inducements
- The pharmacy offers to buy back your meds (what do you think they do with the meds when they buy them back…..yup you guessed it…they turn around and dispense them to someone else)
- The pharmacy offers to pay you if you convince your friends to use their pharmacy
Choose an HIV Pharmacy that’s right for you:
- The pharmacy staff must be HIV sensitive
- The pharmacy staff must be knowledgeable about HIV
- Avoid kickbacks & scams
- Where do your meds come from? Does the pharmacy use reputable drug wholesalers
- The pharmacy staff advocates on your behalf
- Medication must ALWAYS be in stock
- You must receive consultations from the pharmacist on all new prescriptions
- Complimentary mail or delivery and specialized adherence packaging options
- Confidentiality & HIPAA are critical
- Do they support the community?
It is your right to go wherever you choose for your pharmacy services. You may switch pharmacies as many times as you want to, until you feel completely comfortable. It is against the law for the pharmacy to offer you gifts or bribe you to either stay with their pharmacy, or move to their pharmacy, and it is unethical to make you feel bad or make you feel guilty about leaving and moving to another pharmacy. #KnowYourPharmacistKnowYourPharmacy