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An internal medicine doctor in a rural New South Wales town is among dozens of doctors who have been charged over alleged fraud over the price of drugs.
The alleged scheme to manipulate data on the prices of prescription drugs is among the biggest and longest-running in Australia’s drug industry.
The charges relate to drugs supplied by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the Western Australian Health Service (WAHS), and the Western Health Alliance (WHA).
All are members of the Queensland Medicines Association (QMA), which was founded in 2014 to help fund research into new drugs.
In February this year, QUT admitted the fraud was “a serious issue” and the QMA agreed to pay out more than $9 million in compensation.
QUT said it had been investigating the charges, and the investigation would be completed within six months.
In a statement to the ABC, QMA chief executive officer John O’Brien said the company “will continue to investigate” the matter.
“We have taken the action in accordance with our corporate governance policies, and our code of conduct,” he said.
The Queensland Health Department has confirmed to Al Jazeera that two senior managers and three senior staff have been suspended from the organisation.
QMA has confirmed it is investigating whether the alleged scheme was illegal.
The organisation’s head of medical services, Dr Tim O’Sullivan, said the scheme had “no business whatsoever”.
He said it was “deeply disturbing” that doctors were being paid more for drugs than they should have been and he would work to find out how the scheme could have been carried out.
“It’s deeply concerning and we have made inquiries into it,” he told the ABC.
“There are no grounds for any of the charges to be laid.
There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”
Dr O’Sullivans statement about the scheme was in response to a letter from a QUT academic and an academic from WAHS.
The letter was sent to the Western Australia Health Authority (WAHA) on 28 December, accusing the WAH of “serious misconduct”.
WAHS said it has not been contacted by the WA Government or any other organisation over the matter and would be unable to comment.
The Western Australian Medical Association (WAMA) said it “did not know” about the allegations.
The WAHS and WAHS academic have both been suspended and the WA Health Authority has confirmed the WAMA was investigating the allegations against them.
WAMA president Professor Bruce Reid told Al Jazeera the university would not tolerate the alleged fraudulent practices.
“The investigation is ongoing, and we will take appropriate action when it is complete,” he wrote.
“Our organisation is deeply concerned by this allegation and the seriousness of the allegations.”
Professor Reid said the university was aware of the alleged schemes and the allegations surrounding it.
“However, our concern is that the WAHM has been involved in these types of schemes for some time and has a long history of this type of activity,” he added.
“As a result of the investigations we are taking the necessary actions to protect the integrity of our profession.”
QUT and WAH said they were working closely with the WA Police to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the investigation.
The Victorian Government has also launched a probe into the alleged scams.