Millions in HIV drug fraud



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Prosecutors are investigating millions of euros in HIV drug fraud

According to media reports, the fraud with HIV drugs has caused financial damage in the tens of millions. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and public prosecutors are investigating several pharmaceutical wholesalers who allegedly repackaged subsidized medicines intended for patients in Africa and brought them illegally to the German market.

Accused pharmaceutical wholesalers face up to 10 years imprisonment Various pharmaceutical wholesalers across Germany have apparently re-labeled large amounts of the subsidized medicines manufactured for needy patients in South Africa, re-imported them to Germany and billed them with substantial profits at regular prices, NDR info reported. The public prosecutors in Flensburg, Trier and Lübeck have started investigations into several pharmaceutical wholesalers and the BKA has also been involved. According to NDR info, the HIV drugs were illegally imported as bulk goods (bulk goods without packaging, package insert or guarantee) in boxes and sacks full of individual tablets from South Africa via Belgium and Switzerland to Germany. Subsequently, the subsidized HIV medication was sold in Germany at a considerable profit, the Flensburg public prosecutor explained the allegation to the pharmaceutical wholesalers. The accused have not only violated the drug law, but the suspected perpetrators are at risk of 3 months to 10 years imprisonment for commercial fraud, should the suspicion be confirmed, the prosecutor continues. "Since other countries are involved with South Africa, Switzerland and Belgium, this procedure is certainly one of our largest," emphasized Rüdiger Meienburg, chief prosecutor in Flensburg.

Millions of damage caused by illegally sold HIV medication The AOK Lower Saxony estimates that the damage that could have been caused by the illegally sold HIV preparations is at least a double-digit million figure for its area of ​​responsibility alone. The spokesman for the Lower Saxony AOK, Oliver Giebel, made a similar allegation to NDR info as the public prosecutor: “The drugs were intended by aid organizations for the treatment of HIV patients in South Africa. The wholesalers brought the preparations to Germany, although they were not allowed here. ”As the radio station reported, the accused pharmaceutical wholesalers made a substantial profit with the illegally distributed HIV medication - one of the accused alone had a turnover of six million euros.

Accused pharmaceutical wholesalers behave badly Experts like Prof. Dr. Gerd Glaeske from the Center for Social Policy - Health Economics, Health Policy and Health Services Research - at the University of Bremen condemned the alleged fraud and criticized the behavior of the pharmaceutical wholesalers described by the public prosecutor as "reprehensible". Because not only has there been considerable financial damage to the German health system, but the patients who were in urgent need of HIV medication in South Africa apparently never received it. "Not only do wholesalers enrich themselves with criminal energy here, but people who are deprived of these drugs are also harmed," said Prof. Gerd Glaeske.

Millions of frauds with HIV medication discovered in Delmenhorst According to the radio station, the alleged millions of frauds with the HIV medication were discovered in August 2009, when an HIV patient in a Delmenhorst pharmacy noticed that the undamaged packaging of the HIV medication did not contain any tablets were. The subsequent investigations by the Munich manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) showed that both the packaging and the package insert and the blister (blister packaging) were falsified. To be on the safe side, GSK has withdrawn the relevant batch from the market. In a similar case, several batches of an HIV drug were recalled at the pharmaceutical manufacturer Boehringer-Ingelheim between 2009 and 2010. The investigations subsequently initiated led to the suspicion shown above that several pharmaceutical wholesalers illegally sold subsidized HIV drugs in Germany. According to current knowledge, there was no immediate danger for the patients - the effectiveness of the medication was not impaired, the pharmaceutical manufacturers report. However, the investigation is still ongoing and it cannot yet be said with absolute certainty whether the quality of the preparations might have been impaired during transport, for example due to an interruption in the cold chain. In addition, due to the lack of packaging, it has so far not been possible to understand what happens if the expiry date is exceeded.

Millennium Development Goals: Supply of affordable HIV medication Providing the needy HIV patients in developing countries with urgently needed medication at affordable prices is one of the main goals of the international community's health policy. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals have a clear position on this and not only name the fight against HIV / AIDS, malaria and other serious diseases as a clear goal of the international community, but also call on pharmaceutical companies to work together to make access to the needy in developing countries too urgent to enable the required medicinal products at affordable prices. Not least because of concerns that counterfeiters may be ignoring patent protection for the manufacture of inexpensive HIV drugs, the pharmaceutical companies have agreed to distribute subsidized drugs to those in need through local aid organizations. But for unscrupulous pharmaceutical wholesalers, a new line of business seemed to be the obvious choice. Because the price range between the subsidized drugs and the products sold in this country is enormous. According to prosecutors, the accused pharmaceutical wholesalers apparently thought this too and began to re-import the cheaper products in their own way. (fp)

Image: Benjamin Klack / pixelio.de

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Video: Woman Arrested After Using Fake Prescription


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