On Wednesday, Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, in response to a surge in demand of potential treatments for COVID-19 for drugs commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, lupus, malaria and bacterial infections, reminded physicians and pharmacists that these life-sustaining medications should only be dispensed under specified limited circumstances based on legitimate medical need. Dr. Oliver also warned against improper dispensing and potential hoarding of these medications.

On Friday, U.S. Attorneys Thomas Cullen and Zach Terwilliger issued a statement confirming that federal prosecutors are aware of Dr. Oliver’s warnings regarding this increased demand and potentially improper behavior by physicians and other health-care providers who may be improperly prescribing these drugs to themselves, their families and others without a legitimate medical purpose.

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, as part of their joint COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, will be closely monitoring this disturbing trend and are prepared to investigate potential violations of federal and state law committed by any individuals or entities, including physicians, dentists and other healthcare providers, related to these prescription drugs.

“At a time when many doctors, nurses, and first responders are risking their health and personal safety to treat those affected by the coronavirus, it is incredibly disturbing that a selfish minority in that field may be undermining these valiant efforts by prescribing outside legitimate medical practice,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “We will work closely with our federal, state and local partners to identify unscrupulous physicians and other health-care providers who are putting their own well-being ahead of those with a true medical need and hold them accountable under the law.”

“Our office is committed to protecting the public at this critical time, including Virginians who rely on life-sustaining prescription drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger. “We will act swiftly in coordination with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical medications for those who need them against healthcare providers who improperly dispense them.”

Anyone who believes they have been victim of fraud or needs more information about COVID-19, may visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud

For more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva

To report fraud directly to the FBI, visit https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx