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Beckley VA allegedly substituted meds to cut costs

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Wednesday charged that the Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center put patients at medical risk and violated VA policy by substituting prescribed antipsychotic medications with older drugs in order to cut costs. 

OSC, an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, shared the findings Wednesday with the White House and Congress. 

 A VA whistleblower disclosed the allegations to OSC, which were confirmed by the VA’s Office of Medical Inspector, according to a news release. The medical inspector’s report of the investigation says it found that the VAMC’s actions posed “a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.” 

The medical inspector’s office recommended that the Beckley VA hospital immediately stop switching patients from their prescribed drugs without a legitimate clinical need. The investigation also found that, in a departure from standard VA practice, the Beckley VAMC Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee was chaired by a non-physician, and recommended this practice be changed.

“At a time when many veterans are grappling with mental health issues, this VA facility was cutting corners on needed drug therapy to save money in violation of VA policy,” special counsel Carolyn Lerner said. “We only know this was happening because an employee had the courage to blow the whistle on this dangerous practice.”

The report found that the pharmacy committee restricted providers from administering aripiprazole or ziprasidone to meet a cost savings goal…


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