A pharmacist in Washington, D.C. claims that he fills prescriptions for drugs that treat Alzheimer’s Disease for members of Congress, STAT News reports.
A writer for the Boston Globe subsidiary spent time shadowing Mike Kim, the owner of Grubb’s Pharmacy. Founded in 1867, it sends up to 100 prescriptions to Capitol Hill a day. “At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Kim said, citing treatments for diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.’”
Carloads of pharmaceuticals from Grubb’s have been brought to the Capitol nearly every day for almost 20 years. That allows members of Congress to skip lines at the pharmacy: They can simply walk downstairs to the little-known Office of the Attending Physician to pick up their prescriptions.
“The Capitol kind of takes somewhat of a precedence just because of who we’re servicing,” said Kim. “The member might be calling to say, ‘Hey, I’m about to leave in five minutes, where’s my drug? So [the Capitol clinicians] get into panic mode as well. I wouldn’t say they’ve ever gotten frustrated with us, but it’s more of a concern like, ‘Oh my gosh, the member just called us, we need to know where the drug is.’”
The Office of the Attending Physician, which is staffed with doctors and nurses, has run into controversy: In 2016, members of Congress paid $611 a year for membership, which is out of step with the overall rise in health-care costs. Kim says that Grubb’s Pharamcy bills insurance companies and does not provide discounts on prescriptions.
Vox notes that the current Congress is among the oldest in history. Over half of the senators running for re-election will be over 65 by 2018. The average age in the House is 57, and the average age in the Senate is 61.
Kim’s disclosure did not violate any patient privacy laws, Vox says, because he didn’t reveal medical information that would identify a specific patient.