Investigation: Medicaid patients found selling drugs to dealers; 33 arrested

12/06/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Personal Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

Buffalo, NY—A large-scale investigation has led to the arrest of 33 medical patients for allegedly selling their prescription drugs to street dealers. Buffalo investigators used wiretaps, buys, surveillance and cross-agency cooperation to trace the drugs from the pharmacy to the street, as reported by MSNBC.

Authorities have uncovered an emergency class of drug suppliers: medical patients, including publicly funded Medicaid patients, who have their doctor visits and prescriptions paid for through the Medicare program.

Charles Tomaszewski, former supervisor of the DEA office said, “I have to admit we were sort of surprised at how big this had become. The suburbs, the city, there was no area that wasn’t touched by this.”

These patients would often see their doctor, or several doctors at no charge, where they would obtain prescriptions for narcotics, like OxyContin, and then turn around and sell them to illicit drug dealers for as much as $1,000. If the patient is on Medicaid, the program is typically bill $1,060 for a 60-pill, 8-mg prescription, in addition to the $23-to-$39 cost of the doctor visit.

The drug dealers would buy the drugs from the patients and resell them for about $1 a milligram. A single 80-mg OxyContin would sell for about $80 a pill. OxyContin is a time-release formulation of oxycodone, which has 12-hours of pain relief in a single pill. Drug users would crush and ingest the drug, snort it or inject it to obtain the full narcotic effect, much like a heroin rush.

To combat use, several states, including Alaska, Florida, Maine, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia require state approval before OxyContin prescriptions can be filled.

An alleged Buffalo kingpin Michael McCall, who allegedly was buying the medications and then selling them on the streets, and the other co-defendants were charged with possessing and distributing oxycodone and hydrocodone.

McCall was also charged with continuing criminal enterprise for allegedly managing more than 20 patient-suppliers, whom many were covered my Medicaid.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for New York criminal lawyers.

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