Medicaid Pays Millions For Unapproved Drugs

By: WASHINGTON (AP)
By: WASHINGTON (AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Associated Press analysis of federal data has found that Medicaid is paying millions for drugs that have not been reviewed for safety and effectiveness.

The AP analysis found that Medicaid paid nearly $198 million from 2004 to 2007 for more than 100 unapproved drugs, mostly for common conditions such as colds and pain. The AP checked the medications against FDA databases, using agency guidelines to determine if they were unapproved.

Medicaid officials acknowledge a problem but say they help from Congress to fix it.

In some cases, the FDA says, the unapproved drugs have made people sicker, maybe even killed them. This year, for example, the FDA banned injectable versions of a gout drug called colchicine after receiving reports of 23 deaths.

Investigators found the unapproved drug had a very narrow margin of safety, and patients easily could receive a toxic dose leading to complications such as organ failure.


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