Cancer drugs sold cheaply to doctors?

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Suspicion of fraud: AOK pharmacist advisors have to answer before the district court of Lübeck

Two employees of the AOK Nordwest are currently on trial at the Lübeck District Court. The public prosecutor accuses them of cheating pharmaceutical cancer drug manufacturers for around 500,000 euros. Specifically, according to the allegation, the accused pharmacists of the Merkur pharmacy asked in 2004 and 2006 to sell cancer medicines to outpatient doctors at the clinic's special price. Hospitals have to pay less for medicines than is usually the case in pharmacies. The trial is related to another major fraud procedure.

Help with systematic fraud?
In this context, the Lübeck public prosecutor's office speaks of “systematic fraud”, in which the two accused pharmacists of the AOK Nordwest are said to have participated. According to the indictment, they should have taken advantage of the statutory price difference between clinic prices and pharmacy goods in at least 479 cases. The trial is in the context of a larger trial against other suspects. This resulted in a total loss of around 2.5 million euros. In addition to around 400 outpatient medical practices based in Schleswig-Holstein, prisons and dialysis centers are said to have received medication at cheaper prices (judgment against pharmacists for medication fraud).

The Merkur pharmacy was approved as a supplier to clinics and was therefore able to obtain the cheaper medicines from the manufacturers. Around ten pharmaceutical producers suffered property damage of around half a million euros.

Both pharmacists at the Merkur pharmacy have already been convicted of fraud to the disadvantage of the pharmaceutical manufacturer. During the course of the proceedings, one of the defendants at the time declared that two advisors from the former AOK Schleswig-Holstein (after the merger AOK Nordwest) had participated in the fraud, as the health fund announced.

Health insurance company stands behind the employees
The health insurance company vehemently rejects the allegations made by the public prosecutor. After all, the Lübeck public prosecutor's office had "adopted the convict's allegation and accused the accused counseling pharmacist". Rather, the board of directors was "convinced that the AOK counseling pharmacists are innocent." Therefore, the defense pleads for "not guilty".

The health insurance company itself carried out an internal review. No evidence of such misconduct was apparent. "In addition, we do not see any illegal enrichment of the AOK Nordwest through the actions of our employees," said a spokesman.

It has been proven that the accused did not enrich themselves
According to the news agency "dpa", both AOK employees had justified themselves in court with the argument that there was a "complicated price system for medicines" in Germany. They would not have known about the fraud by those already convicted. The prosecutor's office could not prove that they had personally enriched themselves. Therefore, they are not accused of this point. The defense also argued that neither of them "has been shown to have enriched". (sb)

Also read:
Millions in HIV drug fraud
Larger dimensions in cancer drug fraud?
AOK checks thousands of prescription frauds

Image: Benjamin Klack /

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