Telehealth Execs Arrested In Connection With Medication Fraud

The founder and head doctor of Done Global, a telehealth startup company based in San Francisco, were both arrested and charged with fraud; accused by federal authorities of conspiring to facilitate easy access to Adderall and other stimulants.

Ruthia He, the company’s founder, along with head clinical leader David Brody both allegedly prescribed over 40 million stimulant pills while simultaneously targeting “drug-seekers,” according to the United States Justice Department. Furthermore, the department alleges the company spent millions of dollars on “deceptive” social media advertisements.

According to the Justice Department, Done Global “conspired to defraud pharmacies and Medicare” as well as other insurers, and made false claims regarding the company’s prescribing habits. The department further alleged that Brody and He engaged in obstruction of justice. Done Global is alleged to have collected more than $100 million in revenue, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“These defendants exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to develop and carry out a $100 million scheme to defraud taxpayers and provide easy access to Adderall and other stimulants for no legitimate medical purpose,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a written statement. Garland also stated that the DOJ will also be taking action against other players in the online telehealth space who are looking to “profit from addiction.”

Brody appeared in court on Thursday, June 13, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges. Currently, He has not been brought before a judge. Both face charges of participating in the distribution of Adderall over the internet, submitting false and fraudulent claims for reimbursements and obstruction of justice. If convicted, the two each face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Done Global’s Harmful Prescription Practices

Court documents, which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, highlight Done Global’s harmful, and oftentimes deceitful, practices regarding prescriptions. The charging documents allege that He and Brody structured the Done platform to facilitate easy access to Adderall, deliberately limited information available to clinicians, and instructed them to provide prescriptions even if a member didn’t qualify.

One filing alleges that at one point, He wrote that the way the company was structured to pay clinicians was “to dis-encourage follow-up” care. Additionally, the company allegedly refused to pay prescribers for time spent on care or for medical visits and paid them based on the number of patients who received prescriptions.

The documents also allege that He and Brody were aware that patients who used Done Global had died, and that online posts described the company as a “straight up pill mill.”

“The indictment alleges that the conspiracy’s purpose was for the defendants to unlawfully enrich themselves by, among other things, increasing monthly subscription revenue and thus increasing the value of the company,” the Justice Department said.

The charges brought by the DOJ mark the first time the department has pursued a telehealth company dealing in controlled substances.

Curbing The Over-Prescription Of Stimulants Online

The mass over-prescribing by Done Global highlights an incredibly alarming trend in the rise of telehealth companies that prescribe controlled substances.

Stimulants, like Adderall, are classified as a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This designation means that drugs like Adderall and other similar stimulants have a high potential for abuse. However, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government eased up on a 2008 regulation that required patients to see a physician in person before receiving a controlled substance.

This allowed for companies like Done Global and Cerebral to prescribe drugs online. Cerebral stopped prescribing controlled substances in May 2022 following a lawsuit filed by the former vice president of product and engineering, Matthew Truebe, claiming the company “put profits before patient safety and over-prescribed ADHD medications.”

DEA administrator Anne Milgram said that organizations like Done Global are partly to blame for the global Adderall shortage, which has persisted since 2022, and that “any diversion of Adderall and other prescription stimulant pills to persons who have no medical need only exacerbates this shortage and hurts any American with a legitimate medical need for these drugs.”

The Dangers Of Over-Prescribing Adderall

Companies like Done Global and Cerebral have shown that there are real dangers in the mass prescribing of stimulants like Adderall. Not only have they highlighted the dangers behind deceptive and misleading advertising, but also the dangers that come with prescribing stimulants to those who don’t need them or who should not be put on them.

Prescribing stimulants to patients who do not need them or who should not be put on them can have real, serious consequences. A patient passed away in 2020 following an Adderall prescription given by a Done Global clinician. Family of the deceased, Harland Band, say he had a history of opioid addiction, which would have been “obvious from a prescription drug-monitoring database.” Band’s mother says the Adderall prescription triggered a relapse that ultimately caused his death. In 2022 Done Global declined to comment on Band’s death, citing patient privacy.

Cases like Band’s are not freak accidents. Medical experts agree that one risk of prescribing Adderall to those with active substance use disorders is that the medication can increase urges to use other drugs. Experts suggest that patients with a drug history such as Band’s need to be monitored closely for signs they are abusing the medication.

Navigating Substance Abuse And ADHD

For those with an active substance use disorder or a history of substance abuse, Adderall may not always be the safest option for treating ADHD.

In cases of active substance use disorders, it’s always recommended to undergo treatment for both substance abuse and mental health concerns, like ADHD, before deciding to seek medications like Adderall. Dual diagnosis programs assist with managing the symptoms of ADHD and modifying the body’s responses and triggers during recovery. This approach helps people live a healthy and functional life without dependence on any substance.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, ADHD, or both, don’t wait to reach out. When both addiction and ADHD are present, deciding to treat one and not the other often leads to the worsening of symptoms of the untreated condition. This can not only have negative impacts on your life, but can also cause the return of a substance use disorder if not properly treated.

To learn more about treating ADHD and addiction, contact a treatment provider today to understand what options are available.

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Zachary Pottle

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  • Zachary Pottle earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Saint Leo University. His passion for writing has led him to a career in journalism, where he specializes in writing about stories in the pain management and healthcare industry. His main goal as a writer is to bring readers accurate, trustworthy content that serve as useful resources for bettering their lives or the lives of those around them.

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