A Buffalo, New York criminal investigation has arrested 33 medical patients including patients who are on Medicaid for allegedly selling their prescription drugs to drug dealers on the street. The medical patients may face charges for drug crimes such drug possession and drug distribution.
The expansive investigation revealed medical patients as an emerging class of drug suppliers in the illegal drug trade. Medical patients were previously not well known as a major supplier of illicit drugs. Among the medical patients that sold their prescription drugs were Medicaid patients whose doctor appointments and prescription drugs are publically funded by the federal Medicaid program. In their investigation, authorities used drug buys, surveillance, wiretaps and cooperation among different legal agencies to track the illicit drug trade. Officials say that the trade became very lucrative for the involved individuals as patients became reliable sources for drugs.
Patients would go to a doctor or multiple doctors with symptoms and would receive prescriptions for the narcotic OxyContin. The pills were then sold to dealers for up to $1,000 a bottle. If the patient was on Medicaid, the program handled the expenses of the doctor’s visit and prescription. OxyContin is a form of oxycodone and provides 12 hours of pain relief. OxyContin is desired by abusive users because no matter how the drug enters an individual’s body the full effect of the drug is still felt.
The dealers even provided training to patients on how to coerce a doctor into providing prescriptions. One drug dealer told a patient that she needed to say how much pain she was in without the medication and to also talk about the stress her baby was causing her. Dealers sold the prescription medication on the street for $7,200, easily making a $6000 profit.
Source: The Associated Press, “NY Bust: Medicaid Patients’ Rx Drugs Go to Dealers,” 12/5/10