Federal authorities have made a dent in the high-dollar black market for diverted HIV drugs with the arrest of a New York man.
The FDA and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said that last week they arrested Robin Deleonrosa--aka “Magic”--for participating in a scheme in which he and others sold $4 million worth of HIV drugs bought off the street, which were relabeled and sold as new to unsuspecting HIV patients. Deleonrosa, 48, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison. He is said to have sold $1.9 million worth of drugs himself.
Authorities said a search of Deleonrosa's Bronx apartment turned up more than 1,000 bottles of secondhand HIV prescription pills, worth about $1.8 million, and more than $70,000 in cash. They also found lighter fluid that they say Deleonrosa and others used to remove labels from the bottles they bought. New labels were put on the bottles that made it appear as if they were unused.
The drugs were sold either directly to consumers or in bulk to pharmacies, the charges said. The scheme defrauded Medicaid by reusing meds intended for specific patients and because Medicaid then paid for the drugs again as if they were new. They said consumers were at risk of getting meds that may no longer be effective.
The feds have broken up a number of these schemes. In 2013, three Texas residents were arrested for buying drugs from street collectors in New York, repackaging them and selling them to pharmacies through Cumberland Distribution in Tennessee. They were said to have pulled in about $58 million in the process.
In other cases, authorities have charged people who obtained and sold foreign-made cancer drugs and other meds. They have also gone after some of the doctors that knowingly bought the drugs because they were cheap but then charged Medicaid or Medicare full price. Again, there was no guarantee the drugs were properly manufactured, stored or shipped.
- here’s the announcement