Outrage over millions of fraud with HIV drugs

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HIV drug fraud outrages politicians and experts

As reported, the public prosecutors in Trier, Lübeck and Flensburg have started investigations into several pharmaceutical wholesalers on suspicions of fraud involving millions of HIV drugs. In view of the alleged fraud involving subsidized medicines, the indignation in politics can hardly be stopped. After all, it was only in difficult negotiations with the pharmaceutical manufacturers that the international community could achieve the goal and ensure that urgently needed medicines were sold at affordable prices in developing countries. Now some pharmaceutical wholesalers have apparently taken advantage of this and imported the subsidized HIV medication from South Africa back to Germany, repackaged and sold with high profits.

Damage in the millions due to fraud with HIV medication According to estimates by the AOK Lower Saxony, damage in the tens of millions has arisen in its area of ​​responsibility alone due to the fraud with subsidized HIV medication. According to the public prosecutor, the pharmaceutical wholesalers are said to have bought subsidized HIV preparations in South Africa and illegally imported them to Germany via Switzerland and Belgium as loose tablets - in boxes and sacks without packaging or package insert - and reselling them here with new packaging at normal prices. A million-dollar win for the fraudsters, a slap in the face for all those in need in South Africa and for the pharmaceutical manufacturers who were reluctant to be persuaded from the start to subsidize the supply of the preparations. In addition to the public prosecutors in Trier, Flensburg and Lübeck, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is also involved in the investigation. If convicted, the accused face up to 10 years in prison for fraud.

Financial and health damage caused by HIV medication fraud In addition to experts such as Professor Dr. Gerd Glaeske from the Center for Social Policy - Health Economics, Health Policy and Health Services Research - at the University of Bremen also criticized politicians for the alleged fraud. Because the damage is not only limited to the millions that have disappeared into the pockets of pharmaceutical wholesalers, but the needy patients in South Africa lack the urgently needed HIV medication. "Not only do wholesalers enrich themselves with criminal energy here, but people who are deprived of these drugs are also harmed," emphasized Prof. Dr. Gerd Glaeske in conversation with "NDR info". The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach was also shocked by the audacity of the alleged fraudsters. "This is a particularly serious case. Drugs are lacking in Third World countries and subsidies have been paid. Here people are stolen medication, they are then illegally resold at a profit (…) and the subsidy is also taken away, ”said Lauterbach.

Criminal organization in the background of fraud millions? So far, the prosecutors have not been able to say whether the pharmaceutical wholesalers acted as individual offenders or whether there may be connections between the various accused pharmaceutical wholesalers. In case of doubt, even a criminal organization can be behind the current million-dollar fraud with HIV medication, said the Lübeck prosecutor, Günter Möller. "It may be that there is a spider web and we are only marginalized," said the chief prosecutor. The fraud was discovered in mid-2009 when a customer bought an empty blister (transparent packaging) from a Delmenhorster pharmacy and then complained. The subsequent investigation by the Munich manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline showed that both the packaging and the blister and package insert were forged. GlaxoSmithKline had therefore recalled the relevant batch of the HIV drug for safety reasons. This is how the manufacturer Boehringer-Ingelheim proceeded and, in a similar case, took several batches of its HIV medication out of the market in 2009 and 2010.

Pharmaceutical wholesalers deny HIV drug fraud So far, it is difficult to predict how the process of alleging millions of euros in HIV drug fraud will develop. The pharmaceutical wholesalers are still being investigated on suspicion of fraud, trademark infringement and violation of the Medicines Act. At the moment, however, the accused, like a former Sylt pharmaceutical dealer, deny all allegations of fraud. The suspected entrepreneur from Sylt stressed on Friday to the "German Press Agency" that his company ("EWS Trading") did not fake, but acted properly. In addition, he was no longer active as a pharmaceutical wholesaler and "EWS Trading" had already returned the corresponding licenses. (fp)

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Millions in HIV drug fraud

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