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2.7.2016

The Wall Street Journal today reports a Justice Department investigation on healthcare fraud linked to specialty creams used to treat pain and other ailments. According to the article, investigators are challenging the medical necessity of these pain creams, as well as looking into compounding pharmacies’ billing practices. Some of these compounding pharmacies charge more than $10,000 for a single tube of pain cream.

The most money is believed to have been billed to Tricare, the health-insurance program for the U.S. military, veterans, and their families. In fiscal year 2015, Tricare paid $1.75 billion for compounded drugs, including pain creams. From people close to the probe, the investigation is still in its early stages.

These compounded pain creams are often pitched on the Internet or by telemarketers as a safe way to heal quickly or alleviate types of pain or cramping. Additionally, they are marketed to seniors as a way to ease the aches of aging.

The article then discussed Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre promoted a pain cream called RxPro made by World Health Industries Inc. of Jackson, Mississippi, and its investigation by the FBI. World Health Industries, however, did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi is overseeing a probe on World Health Industries that includes the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Postal Inspectors, and the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Those agencies led a raid on locations in Mississippi, Alabama, Utah, and Florida, and seized $15 million in property.

According to a compounding pharmacy manager, “It’s not like we’re selling drugs out the back door. This isn’t Pablo Escobar’s house, this is a medical profession, for crying out loud.”

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