Telehealth executives accused of $100m Adderall scheme

Adderall pills lined up
[Getty Images]

US investigators have arrested the founder and CEO of a telehealth company who is accused of a running a $100m (£78m) scheme to fraudulently distribute over 40m pills of Adderall and other controlled substances.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said that Done CEO Ruthia He conspired with the company's clinical president, David Brody, "to provide easy access to Adderall and other stimulants for no legitimate medical purpose".

America's top law officer said the executives had exploited telemedicine rules that were loosened during the Covid pandemic.

Done Global, a San Francisco-based start-up, became popular during the pandemic as an online way to obtain Adderall by paying a monthly subscription fee.

Ms He was arrested in Los Angeles and Dr Brody in San Rafael, California, according to officials.

They are charged with distribution of controlled substances. They could each face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Adderall is a medication that helps manage symptoms of ADHD - which can include an inability to focus on a single task.

The charges come amid a national shortage of the drug.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri accused the pair of "spending millions on deceptive advertisements on social media".

"These charges are the Justice Department’s first criminal drug distribution prosecutions related to telemedicine prescribing through a digital health company," Ms Argentieri said in a statement.

Part of the alleged scheme included increasing the subscription fee, thus increasing the value of the company to "unlawfully enrich themselves".

The defendants also allegedly limited information available to prescribers, and instructed them to prescribe medications to patients even when they did not medically qualify.

They also allegedly mandated that Done patients complete an initial screening with the prescriber for no longer than 30 minutes.

Officials say they continued the illegal scheme "even after being made aware that material was posted on online social networks about how to use Done to obtain easy access to Adderall and other stimulants, and that Done members had overdosed and died".

They are also accused of defrauding government healthcare assistance programmes Medicare and Medicaid, as well as pharmacies, out of at least $14m and of conspiring to obstruct justice by deleting documents and emails.