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Major fraud suspected with HIV drugs

The Local · 24 Feb 2011, 08:22

Published: 24 Feb 2011 08:22 GMT+01:00

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Investigators are probing several pharmaceutical wholesalers, NDR reported on Thursday, who are suspected of repackaging HIV drugs in Africa, bringing them back to Germany and reselling them at local market rates.

According to investigators, the HIV drugs were often in the form of loose pills in cartons and sacks that were destined for HIV patients in South Africa, which has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection. After the medicines were repackaged, they were brought to Germany illegally via Belgium and Switzerland.

"Because South Africa, Switzerland and Belgium as well as other countries are involved, this case is surely going to be one of our biggest," Rüdiger Meienburg, the head prosecutor in Flensburg, told NDR.

According to NDR, one wholesaler allegedly made around €6 million in profits from the trade. In addition to Flensburg officials, prosecutors in Trier and Lübeck have launched investigations and Germany's federal police have also become involved.

This kind of fraud, according to the Flensburg office, can carry jail terms of three months to ten years.

"These medicines were from aid organizations for treatment of South Africans and the wholesalers brought them to Germany although they were not approved here," the Lower Saxony spokesman for the AOK health insurance company, Oliver Giebel, told NDR. He said health insurers likely lost tens of millions of euros due to the fraud.

Investigators do not think the effectiveness of the medicines was lowered due to their transport and repackaging, although they are looking into whether some had passed their expiration dates.

"In this case, wholesalers were not only enriching themselves through criminal means, but they were hurting the people who were supposed to receive these drugs," said pharmaceutical expert Gerd Glaeske of the University of Bremen.

Story continues below…

"That's especially reprehensible," he added.

DPA/The Local/kdj

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:04 February 24, 2011 by idiot
>AOK said health insurers likely lost tens of millions of euros due to the fraud

Money turns the whole world.
10:30 February 24, 2011 by stux
Wow, I would do 3 - 6 in a Euro jail for 6 million Euro. How do I get in on this?
14:30 February 24, 2011 by positiveguy
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:06 February 24, 2011 by cobalisk
PG - No offense but you post looks like spam.

As to the article

1) This is a truly ruthless thing to do, taking donated or discounted drugs for the impoverished and reselling them in the rich world.

2) We should seriously examine the retail costs of drugs in this country because I strongly suspect that high local market costs are allowing for deep discounts (dumping) in other markets. Why should we pay so much while other pay so much less? Drug costs should be uniform with the exception of donated or relief medicine.
06:32 February 25, 2011 by pozguy
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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