01-19-2004, 10:28 AM #1
Today's Wall Street Journal About Serostism
Article in todays WSJ "Cracking down on illicit use of AIDS drugs...talks about the illegal use of and the blackmarket for Sersotism. It highlights busts made in California, New York, Hawaii, and a $700,000 bust in New Jersey. Talks about the cost of usage being $21,000 for 12 weeks usage! Evidently the State Medicaid Investagors are cracking down on the illegal usage both in the form of fake prescriptions and drug thefs. It specically discusses Serostism made by Serono. Very interesting article.
01-19-2004, 10:49 AM #2
so how about posting it for all to read?
01-19-2004, 11:01 AM #3Originally Posted by jeffylyte
It is a good article, it always intrigues me whenever I see an article about AAS or HGH in a magazine. Its interesting to see what their point of view is on the subjects.
01-20-2004, 11:26 AM #4
01-20-2004, 01:38 PM #5
unfortunately, its a sign up page so I would probably need a subsc. I guess Im just too cheap to buy it!
01-20-2004, 02:53 PM #6
Sorry bro..here is the article
On Illicit Use
Of AIDS Drug
By CHRISTOPHER WINDHAM
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Law-enforcement crackdowns across the country are starting to stem the tide of an unusual type of contraband: an AIDS medication that has found an underground recreational use as a bodybuilding drug.
The drug is Serostim, a growth hormone prescribed to fight the wasting syndrome that can affect AIDS patients. Some bodybuilders inject it to pump up their muscles. At weight-lifting havens, illicitly acquired Serostim is referred to as "stim" or "GH." A Hollywood bodybuilder, Tim Fogarty, who says he doesn't use it himself, nevertheless declares, "You cannot compete at the national level without taking massive amounts of growth hormone." Unlike anabolic steroids , Serostim is undetectable by sports groups' blood tests.
Serostim is an unusually expensive drug. The Food and Drug Administration has approved its use for as long as 12 weeks, which costs about $21,000. But doctors have been known to keep patients on the drug for a year, at a cost of about $80,000.
Taxpayers foot the bill for many AIDS patients, through the state-federal Medicaid program. But some patients use little or none of the Serostim prescribed for them, authorities say, and shunt the rest to the black market. The street price can run up to $2,000 for a week's supply in New Jersey, and $1,000 a week in California.
Police have made Serostim busts in California, New York, Hawaii and New Jersey. State Medicaid investigators are banding together and trading case information to curb the black market before it reaches the proportions of another, more widely misused legal drug, the painkiller OxyContin.
Some state Medicaid programs are attacking the problem by requiring pharmacists to receive authorization by a Medicaid office before a Serostim prescription can be filled. Medicaid paid $74 million for Serostim last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The federal-state AIDS Drug Assistance Program paid for additional prescriptions.
Diversion of Serostim to gyms is just one of the issues casting a spotlight on this drug, made by Serono SA, a publicly held biotech company based in Geneva. Its high price also has attracted counterfeiters, unlicensed wholesalers and prescription-forgers, law-enforcement officials say.
Ernesto Bertarelli, Serono's chief executive, says Serostim has always been a target for criminals, noting a case in Switzerland where people were stealing the drug from its laboratories during clinical trials. "We've been fighting this for quite some time," Mr. Bertarelli said in an interview. "We've worked very closely with the FBI for many years now in providing all our expertise and know-how to all these gimmicks in order to catch the people."
To fight misuse and counterfeiting, the company in 2002 instituted a secure distribution system designed to track individual boxes from the manufacturer to the pharmacy and ultimately to the patient. Mr. Bertarelli says this clampdown by authorities, Medicaid programs and his company has had some effect.
"It [Serostim diversion] has all not been curtailed," says Bill Powers, Medicaid investigator in San Diego County, Calif. "But they have been able to bring it under control."
At Eddie's Pharmacy in West Hollywood, Calif., owner Eddie Bubar witnessed a sharp drop in the number of Serostim prescriptions he filled each month after Serono toughened the controls. At its peak in 2000, Eddie's would issue about 120 boxes a month, Mr. Bubar says. Today, he distributes only about 40 boxes a month.
In addition to the investigations into Serostim misuse, Serono has said the U.S. attorney in Boston asked it in 2001 for roughly a decade's worth of documents pertaining to Serostim. In 2002, the company received similar subpoenas from authorities in California, Florida, Maryland and New York, it said in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. There's no indication these probes have any connection to the crackdowns on Serostim misuse. Serono won't discuss the federal investigations except to say that it is cooperating fully.
One admitted Serostim dealer provided a rare window into the trade. Jeffrey Sibille was working as a Los Angeles movie-set builder in 1999 when he says he overheard a gym conversation between a bodybuilder and a friend about buying Serostim for $650 a box. He recalled seeing stacks of it in the homes of AIDS patients to whom he delivered free meals for Project Angel Food, a nonprofit group. One patient said she didn't use it because it made her arms swell. She agreed to sell him her 30 boxes for $200 each.
He soon found other patients on his delivery route who were eager to convert their surplus Serostim into cash. "I saw an industry in the making," Mr. Sibille says. He says he made as much as $70,000 a month on the streets of Southern California.
Mr. Sibille says he shared his moneymaking secrets with others, and turned informant when acquaintances were caught forging prescriptions. Mr. Sibille testified against the others in a San Diego grand jury trial but wasn't himself prosecuted because, "We didn't have any evidence of him doing it directly," says Kim Brown, deputy district attorney in San Diego County.
Other Serostim rings have been raided. In a New Jersey bust last summer, police in Bergen County arrested nine people and seized more than $7 million in AIDS drugs, including $700,000 worth of Serostim, from an apartment in the town of Cliffside Park. Bergen County Chief of Detectives Mike Mordaga says it appeared the chief suspect had used "foot soldiers" to stake out AIDS clinics, offering $200 or some heroin for boxes of Serostim and reselling them in gyms for $1,700 or more. Each box is a week's supply: seven vials of the drug plus vials of sterile water to mix it with before it's injected. "These people were moving millions [in Serostim] a month," Mr. Mordaga says.
The New York attorney general's office has opened multiple probes of Serostim misuse. In March, a former HIV-education coordinator at a Bronx clinic was sent to prison for forging Serostim prescriptions that were billed to Medicaid for $1.7 million. Prosecutors said that between January and September 2000, Bronx resident Enrique Rojas faxed phony Serostim prescriptions to several mail-order pharmacies, using names of real-but-unsuspecting Medicaid patients. The pharmacies filled the prescriptions and billed Medicaid. The drugs were sent to several New York City addresses used by Mr. Rojas, who then sold them on black market. Mr. Rojas pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced in March to state prison.
In Hawaii, meanwhile, one man is awaiting trial and another has pleaded guilty to charges of illegally selling Serostim, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Loretta Sheehan in Honolulu.
Serostim reached the U.S. market in 1996 to treat AIDS-associated wasting. It is a bioengineered form of somatropin, similar to drugs other companies sell for children with growth-hormone deficiencies. Serostim interacts with cells to increase lean body mass.
Just as Serono was winning the right to sell Serostim in the U.S. in 1996, new antiviral drugs were arriving that could control HIV and vastly improve AIDS patients' outlook. Among their benefits was reducing the problem of AIDS wasting. Sales of Serostim, which in 2002 totaled $95 million, are on the decline because of a fall in the number of AIDS-wasting cases.
Meanwhile, many doctors who treat AIDS are cool on prescribing Serostim because of its high price and skepticism of the drug's value. "I would care less if I couldn't prescribe it at all," says Charles Farthing, chief of medicine for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.
But some AIDS patients still are routinely prescribed Serostim. Serono says about 5,000 people in the U.S. currently take it. That's out of about 800,000 to 900,000 people currently living with HIV in the U.S., according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Write to Christopher Windham at email@example.com
Updated January 19, 2004
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01-20-2004, 04:24 PM #7
BAN IT! They ban everything else in this country, why not?
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