Taxpayers have shelled out at least $200 million since 2004 for medications that have never been reviewed by the government for safety and effectiveness but are still covered under Medicaid, an Associated Press analysis of federal data has found. Millions of private patients are taking such drugs, as well.
The availability of unapproved prescription drugs to the public may create a dangerous false sense of security. Dozens of deaths have been linked to them.
The medications date back decades, before the Food and Drug Administration tightened its review of drugs in the early 1960s. The FDA says it is trying to squeeze them from the market, but conflicting federal laws allow the Medicaid health program for low-income people to pay for them.
Last year, the FDA banned unapproved cough medicines containing hydrocodone, a potent narcotic