Some drugs that have never been tested for safety are still available through Medicaid and millions of patients are taking them. An analysis conducted by the Associated Press found that dozens of deaths have been linked to the drugs and that taxpayers have spent at least $200 million on the potentially dangerous medications since 2004.
The medications in question date back to the 1960s, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened its review of drug safety. The FDA is trying to remove the medications from the market, but federal laws allow them to be purchased through Medicaid, a program for low income families.
More than 100 of the unapproved drugs are available through Medicaid, and the FDA guesses that there may be thousands more on the market. In fact, the agency estimated that about 72 million prescriptions are written every year for medications that have not met current safety standards. Medicaid officials have said that they want to correct the problem but need assistance from Congress to do so.