Study: Medicaid paid $198 million for unapproved drugs

By analyzing federal data, the Associated Press has discovered that in three years, Medicaid paid almost $198 million for prescription drugs that haven't been approved by the FDA.

More than 100 drugs that were on the market before the FDA began more detailed evaluations of drugs for safety or effectiveness are still on the market, though they haven't been approved by the agency. From 2004 to 2007, those drugs accounted for nearly $198 million of what Medicaid spent on prescription drugs.

Unapproved drugs, according to the study by the AP, make up approximately 2 percent of the prescription drugs sold in the U.S. each year. Doctors and pharmacists are often unaware that the drugs have never been approved by the FDA.

There doesn't seem to be any clear list of what drugs are approved and unapproved, leading Medicaid and private insurers alike to unknowingly pay for drugs that could actually cause more problems than they solve.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece