CA: Founder/CEO and Clinical President of Digital Health Company Arrested for $100M Adderall Distribution and Health Care Fraud Scheme

Justice Department’s First Criminal Drug Distribution Prosecutions Related to a Digital Health Company That Distributed Controlled Substances Via Telemedicine

The founder and CEO of a California-based digital health company and its clinical president were arrested today in connection with their alleged participation in a scheme to distribute Adderall over the internet, conspire to commit health care fraud in connection with the submission of false and fraudulent claims for reimbursement for Adderall and other stimulants, and obstruct justice.

Ruthia He, the founder and CEO of Done Global Inc., was arrested in Los Angeles and will make her initial appearance at 1:30 p.m. PDT/4:30 p.m. EDT in Los Angeles. David Brody, the clinical president of Done Health P.C. (collectively, Done), was arrested in San Rafael, California, and will make his initial appearance at 10:30 a.m. PDT/1:30 p.m. EDT in San Francisco, California.

“As alleged, 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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Those seeking to profit from addiction by illegally distributing controlled substances over the internet should know that they cannot hide their crimes and that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

“The individuals charged today allegedly disregarded the first rule of medical care—do no harm—in order to maximize profits, and there is no place for such fraud in our healthcare system,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The indictment levied against these individuals sends a clear message: the Department of Homeland Security, our Homeland Security Investigations personnel, and our partners across the federal government will hold accountable those providers and prescribers who prey on their patients.”

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants provided easy access to Adderall and other stimulants by exploiting telemedicine and spending millions on deceptive advertisements on social media. They generated over $100 million in revenue by arranging for the prescription of over 40 million pills,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These charges are the Justice Department’s first criminal drug distribution prosecutions related to telemedicine prescribing through a digital health company. As these charges make clear, corporate executives who put profit over the health and safety of patients—including by using technological innovation—will be held to account.”

According to court documents, He and Brody allegedly conspired with others to provide easy access to Adderall and other stimulants in exchange for payment of a monthly subscription fee. The indictment alleges that the conspiracy’s purpose was for the defendants to unlawfully enrich themselves by, among other things, by increasing monthly subscription revenue and thus increasing the value of the company. Done allegedly arranged for the prescription of over 40 million pills of Adderall and other stimulants, and obtained over $100 million in revenue.

“The internet is a place of remarkable innovation, allowing its users to make innumerable types of transactions with greater ease. Such transactions, however, must always be legal,” said Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division Matthew Yelovich for the Northern District of California. “The indictment alleges that He and Brody used an internet-based infrastructure to illegally distribute drug sales and to conspire to commit health care fraud. This office will always prosecute health care fraud and illegal drug distribution on the internet as vigorously as we do traditional frauds and illegal drug distribution.”

He and Brody allegedly obtained subscribers by targeting drug seekers and spending tens of millions of dollars on deceptive advertisements on social media networks. They also allegedly intentionally structured the Done platform to facilitate access to Adderall and other stimulants, including by limiting the information available to Done prescribers, instructing Done prescribers to prescribe Adderall and other stimulants even if the Done member did not qualify, and mandating that initial encounters would be under 30 minutes. To maximize profits, He allegedly put in a place an “auto-refill” function that allowed Done subscribers to elect to have a message requesting a refill be auto-generated every month. He wrote that Done sought to “use the comp structure to dis-encourage follow-up” medical care by refusing to pay Done prescribers for any medical visits, telemedicine consultation, or time spent caring for patients after an initial consultation, and instead paying solely based on the number of patients who received prescriptions.

“The defendants in this case operated Done Global Inc., an online telehealth website that prescribed Adderall and other highly addictive medications to patients who bought a monthly subscription. The defendants allegedly preyed on Americans and put profits over patients by exploiting telemedicine rules that facilitated access to medications during the unprecedented COVID-19 public health emergency,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Instead of properly addressing medical needs, the defendants allegedly made millions of dollars by pushing addictive medications. In many cases, Done Global prescribed ADHD medications when they were not medically necessary. In 2022 the FDA issued a notice of shortages in prescription stimulants, including Adderall. 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 DEA will continue to hold accountable anyone, including company executives, that uses telehealth platforms to put profit above patient safety.”

“As more health care needs are met through telemedicine, we will not tolerate fraud schemes that seek to recklessly exploit digital technologies,” said Honorable Christi A. Grimm of the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the enrollees of federal health care programs by ensuring that requirements for the appropriate, legal prescribing of stimulants and other drugs are always met, and those who choose to violate them are held accountable.”

He and Brody allegedly persisted in the conspiracy 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 also allegedly concealed and disguised the conspiracy by making fraudulent representations to media outlets to forestall government investigations and action and induce third parties to continue doing business with Done.

“Healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime. It levies a tremendous cost on our nation’s healthcare systems and economy,” said Executive Associate Director Katrina W. Berger of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder that it is only a matter of time before anyone engaging in fraudulent activity is caught and brought to justice.”

“Instead of prioritizing the health of their customers, He and Brody’s telemedicine company allegedly prioritized profits—more than $100 million worth—by fraudulently prescribing medications like Adderall and other stimulants,” said Chief Guy Ficco of IRS Criminal Investigation. “This led customers to addiction, abuse, and overdoses, which the company tried to conceal by making false representations to the media in order to deter oversight by government agencies.”

He, Brody, and others also conspired to defraud pharmacies and Medicare, Medicaid, and the commercial insurers to cause the pharmacies to dispense Adderall and other stimulants to Done members in violation of their corresponding responsibility; Medicare, Medicaid, and the commercial insurers to pay for the cost of these drugs; and Done members to continue to pay subscription fees to Done. He and others allegedly made false and fraudulent representations about Done’s prescription policies and practices to induce the pharmacies to fill Done’s prescriptions. As a result, Medicare, Medicaid, and the commercial insurers paid in excess of approximately $14 million.

The indictment also alleges that He and Brody conspired to obstruct justice after a grand jury subpoena was issued to another telehealth company and in anticipation of a subpoena being issued to Done, including by deleting documents and communications, using encrypted messaging platforms instead of company email, and ultimately failing to produce documents in response to a subpoena issued to Done by a federal grand jury.

If convicted, He and Brody each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distribution of controlled substances counts.

The DEA, HHS-OIG, HSI, and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating the case.

Principal Assistant Chief Jacob Foster and Trial Attorney Raymond Beckering III of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristina Green, Katherine Lloyd-Lovett, and Lloyd Farnham for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s efforts to combat health care fraud through the Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program. Since March 2007, this program, currently comprised of nine strike forces operating in 27 federal districts, has charged more than 5,400 defendants who collectively have billed federal health care programs and private insurers more than $27 billion. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to hold providers accountable for their involvement in health care fraud schemes. More information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/health-care-fraud-unit.

Any patient of Done or medical professional who has been involved with the allegedly illegal conduct should call to report this conduct to the DEA hotline at 646-466-5159.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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