Los Angeles: Top executives of a California-based online mental health company were arrested on allegations of improperly prescribing addictive stimulants like Adderall during the coronavirus pandemic and exacerbating the shortage of the drugs for those who medically need them, officials said Thursday.

Ruthia He, the founder and CEO of Done Global Inc., and clinical president David Brody were arrested Thursday in Los Angeles and San Rafael, California, respectively, for allegedly conspiring to provide easy access to Adderall and other stimulant drugs, which are largely used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, in exchange for a monthly subscription fee, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

Done Global allegedly helped prescribe more than 40 million pills of Adderall and other stimulants, and earned over $100 million in revenue, prosecutors said. He and Brody could not be reached for comment, and it was unclear if they have hired attorneys. Done Global did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.

He and Brody are accused of instructing providers on Done Global to prescribe stimulant drugs even if the patient did not qualify, disincentivizing follow-up appointments by only paying based on the number of patients who received prescriptions, and requiring intake appointments to be under 30 minutes, the Justice Department said.

“As alleged, 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 statement.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of “potential disrupted access to care” for people who rely on the platform or other telehealth platforms like it to receive medication that could affect 30,000 to 50,000 patients nationwide. There is an ongoing shortage of several prescription drugs used to treat ADHD, including Adderall. The CDC urged people to avoid using medication acquired from anyone other than a licensed clinician and pharmacy.

Last February, the Drug Enforcement Administration said it planned to reinstate longstanding federal requirements for an in-person doctor’s visit to receive a prescription for addictive drugs such as OxyContin or Adderall amid growing concerns that some startup telehealth companies were improperly prescribing them.

“In many cases, Done Global prescribed ADHD medications when they were not medically necessary,” DEA official Anne Milgram said in a statement. “Any diversion of Adderall and other prescription stimulant pills to persons who have no medical need only exacerbates this shortage and hurts any American with a legitimate medical need for these drugs.”

Prosecutors allege He and Brody continued to distribute drugs in this manner after knowing of social media posts that Done Global patients had overdosed and died, the news release said. The two also allegedly lied to pharmacies and health insurance providers to ensure prescriptions were filled and paid for, with Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies paying an excess of about $14 million, according to the news release.

The maximum penalty for He and Brody’s charges is 20 years in prison.

  • Published On Jun 15, 2024 at 06:24 AM IST

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