Disrupted Adderall Access Poses Risks After Telehealth Company Charged with Fraud

Disrupted Adderall Access Poses Risks After Telehealth Company Charged with Fraud

Tens of thousands of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder nationwide could face disruptions to their care after two executives of a major telehealth company that distributed A.D.H.D. drugs were indicted on charges of health care fraud.

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that the chief executive and the clinical president of Done, the telehealth company, had been arrested and accused of participating in a scheme to distribute Adderall and other stimulants for A.D.H.D. to patients who did not need the medications, and to bill insurers for these drugs. Done was one of several telehealth companies that became popular during pandemic lockdowns, when the government relaxed restrictions around online prescriptions for controlled substances such as Adderall.

“These defendants exploited the Covid-19 pandemic to develop and carry out a $100 million scheme to defraud taxpayers and provide easy access to Adderall and other stimulants for no legitimate medical purpose,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a news release.

The indictment comes amid ongoing shortages of Adderall and another stimulant, Vyvanse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as many as 50,000 patients across the nation who rely on Done or similar telehealth platforms to obtain stimulant medications may be affected.

“It’s really frustrating for people who have longstanding A.D.H.D., or for people whose children have longstanding A.D.H.D., to find out that one of the reasons they’ve possibly been having difficulty getting consistent care is because of something that appears to be fraudulent,” said Margaret Sibley, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

“There are a lot of people who are going to be struggling without consistent medication,” she added. “I think that’s tough for those people who really, really need it.”

The Justice Department claimed that Ruthia He, Done’s chief executive, and the company’s clinical president, David Brody, built the business in part by spending tens of millions of dollars on “deceptive advertisements” posted on social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok. Done’s posts, which often capitalized on trends and memes, frequently featured young people “discovering” on camera that they had A.D.H.D.

Prospective patients took a minute-long assessment to evaluate if they should be treated for A.D.H.D. The company connected patients virtually with clinicians who could then diagnose them and prescribe medication for A.D.H.D. In some states, patients were able to see providers in person or get medications delivered directly to them.

Federal officials also claimed that the company limited the information available to Done’s prescribers and told providers to prescribe stimulants to patients who did not qualify. The providers were also required to keep initial patient consultations to under a half-hour, the Justice Department said. The company could not be reached for comment.

The C.D.C. recommended that people who are running low on their current prescriptions schedule an appointment with a health care provider as soon as possible. The agency also warned that seeking out stimulants through illegitimate channels carried risks, including that the pills may be counterfeit or contain fentanyl. .The C.D.C. recommended that clinicians prescribe naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug, to any patient who obtains A.D.H.D. medications outside of the health care system.

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