GUARDIA Civil officers have closed down an illegal medical practice in Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz.
In an operation codenamed ‘PHARMAKIS,’ eight people have been arrested, among them the directors of a putatively non-profit organisation, a pharmacist and several doctors.
The group is accused of defrauding the Andalucian Health Services, ‘professional intrusiveness,’ and falsification of documents, relating to their alleged involvement in the illegal removal of thousands of drugs under the auspices of social security.
In addition, the gang set up a medical ‘practice’ which failed to meet ‘minimum guarantees’ for drug dispensation and sanitation.
Among those detained are the man in charge of the ‘practice,’ his wife, the chemist who dispensed the drugs and five family doctors who allegedly added lists of medications in an ‘abusive, indiscriminate fashion’ to the social security documents of patients who then failed to show up for appointments.
During a sweep of the proprietor’s home, the health cards of 210 citizens, some of who are already dead, were unearthed, while at the practice itself they were unable to locate facilities for hand-washing, sterilization or disposal of hazardous waste, although equipment for internal examination of patients, and a rubber stamp with the inscription ‘Jerez Medical Centre’ were recovered.
The investigation came about when the Guardia Civil received a complaint lodged by the Territorial Delegation of Health and Social Welfare of the Council of Andalucia in Cadiz, which highlighted that three patients had ordered drugs to be sent to a pharmacy in Jerez with a market value totalling €20,000.
It later transpired that the three individuals lived far away from the pharmacy, and their respective ages and physical condition made it ‘improbable’ that they would be able to make the long journey to collect their medication.
Moreover, the patients would probably have died had they ingested the quantities requested.
One order consisted of ninety-six packages of a drug for which the normal prescription is eight, thus exceeding the standard order by €2,100, while others contained expensive medications which must be administered by a doctor or stored at certain temperatures, such as cancer treatments, morphine, or psychotropic treatments.
It was also discovered that staff working at the ‘practice’ did not have the necessary qualifications, official contracts or liability insurance, and that many of the drugs being used were out of date.