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White House clinic improperly distributed controlled substances: Report

White House clinic improperly distributed controlled substances and provided care for ineligible staffers, according to a report released by the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The report was issued after a multiyear investigation was launched following the spring 2018 IG hotline call where complaints alleged that senior medical officers within the White House Medical Unit engaged in “improper medical practices.” 

In the report, the investigation found that “except for the White House Medical Unit, the National Capital Region executive medicine clinics that we visited did not procure, store, or dispense controlled substances or other prescription medications; rather, they relied on full‑service military treatment facility pharmacies for all pharmaceutical support.” 

The White House Medical Unit is a military command tasked with taking care of senior administration officials and the president. 

In the report, the White House Medical unit was giving out substances like morphine and oxycodone directly, instead of directing the patients to the pharmacy. The prescriptions were issued without verifying if the recipient was verified to have access to White House medical care. 

Some medical providers left due to the way the unit was run. 

“As a result, the Military Health System did not bill non‑DoD beneficiaries for services rendered, and we found that the DoD funded and resourced care for an average of 6 to 20 non‑DoD beneficiary patients per week,” the report said. “Multiple former White House Medical Unit medical providers stated that they requested an early departure from the unit due to the unit’s practices.” 

During the Trump administration, the White House Medical Office spent thousands of dollars on branded medication rather than opting for the generic alternatives that are less expensive, according to the report. 

“Over a 3‑year period, the White House Medical Unit spent an estimated $46,500 for brand name Ambien, which is 174 times more expensive than the generic equivalent,” the report said. “Over the same period, the White House Medical Unit also spent an estimated $98,000 for brand name Provigil, which is 55 times more expensive than the generic equivalent.” 

Although the report found many irregularities, it was able to detail some recommendations moving forward. Procedures should be developed for properly storing medication. An oversight plan should be developed for the White House Medical Unit, along with bettering procedures to properly dispense and prescribe medication. 

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