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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Trump White House pharmacy improperly provided drugs and misused funds, Pentagon report finds
WASHINGTON: The White House Medical Unit during the Trump administration provided prescription drugs, including controlled substances, to ineligible staff and spent tens of thousands of dollars more on brand-name drugs than what generic equivalents would have cost, a Pentagon report shows.
The unit, part of the White House Military Office, did not comply with federal government and Department of Defense guidelines, the report, which was released on Jan. 8, found.
Ineligible staffers received free specialty care and surgery at military medical facilities and were provided with prescription drugs including controlled substances, in violation of federal law, the report also found.
“The White House Medical Unit’s pharmaceutical management practices ineffectively used DoD funds by obtaining brand-name medications instead of generic equivalents and increased the risk for the diversion of controlled substances,” it said.
The unit lacked effective controls to ensure compliance with safety standards, was not subject to oversight by Military Health System leaders, and increased the risk to patient health and safety, the report said.
The unit spent $46,500 from 2017-2019 on 8,900 unit doses of Ambien, a brand name sleeping medication, which was 174 times more than the $270 the generic equivalent would have cost for the same amount of doses. It spent $98,000 on 4,180 unit doses of Provigil, a brand name stimulant, 55 times more than the $1,800 the generic equivalent would have cost, the report found.
Both drugs were disbursed without verifying patient identities. Opioids and sleeping medications were not properly accounted for and were tracked using error-filled or unreadable handwritten records, the report said.
The report presents the findings of the Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General, which investigated the unit from September 2019 through February 2020 after receiving a complaint in 2018. It spans 2009 to 2018 and thus covers the presidential administrations of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, but most of its findings focus on 2017-2019 when Trump was president.
In response to the report’s findings, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, Lester Martinez-Lopez, sent a memo to the Inspector General concurring with all its recommendations.
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