Three US Congressional committees are investigating schemes in which individuals obtain pharmacy licenses only to use them as a means for purchasing cancer drugs and other medications that are sold to gray market wholesalers, rather than dispensed to patients. “Documents obtained during the course of this ongoing investigation indicate that rather than dispensing short-supply drugs to patients pursuant to their licenses, these pharmacies instead transferred these drugs to wholesaler companies owned by the same individuals. These wholesaler companies then sold the drugs back into the gray market, sometimes in violation of state law and at exorbitant markups,” indicates a press release from the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The chairman of that committee, Elijah E. Cummings, along with Senator John D. Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, sent letters on March 21, 2012, “requesting documents from licensed pharmacies that are buying up drugs that are desperately needed to treat cancer and other illnesses and are in critically short supply, and are selling these drugs back into the gray market” as noted in the press release. “It appears that some of these individuals essentially established ‘fake pharmacies’ to obtain drugs that are in critically short supply and are desperately needed to treat patients with cancer and others diseases,” stated Representative Cummings. “What remains unclear is exactly how much they profited from this activity.” The letters are part of a broader investigation launched by Cummings on October 5, 2011, and which Rockefeller and Harkin joined in December. NABP provided information that assisted in this investigation. More information about the investigation is available on the Web site of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.