The White House clinic improperly distributed controlled substances during previous administrations, the report says
WASHINGTON — The White House Medical Unit has encountered “serious and systemic problems” with its pharmacy operations and supply health care for ineligible employees before the Biden administration, according to a scathing report from The Washington Post Defense DepartmentOffice of the Inspector General .
The multi-year investigation was prompted in 2018 by complaints alleging that a senior military medical officer at the White House Clinic “engaged in improper medical practices.” The investigation included site visits and focused on a three-year period during the Trump administration, as well as interviews with staff dating back to 2009.
“The White House Medical Unit distributed prescription medications, including controlled substances, to ineligible White House staff,” a White House spokesman said. a report, that was Released this month.
The unit also kept records for Schedule II drugs — such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone — in the same inventory as other drug records, according to the report, even though federal regulations require them to be kept separate.
Handwritten clinic records from the Trump administration “often contained errors in medication counts, illegible text, or crossed out text that was not adequately explained,” the report said.
The White House Medical Unit, which consists of multiple clinics in the Washington area, is staffed by military and civilian personnel and is supervised by the Department of Defense.
Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, was the White House physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump before leaving in 2018.
Kate Lair, Jackson’s communications director, said in a statement to NBC News that the congressman was not director of the White House Medical Unit during the time frame during which the bulk of the records were provided for the report. She pointed out that Jackson was the president’s physician during the Obama era and later the president’s chief medical advisor during the Trump era, and she said the latter position held Jackson took office in early 2019had a health care policy role and “had no affiliation or involvement in the provision of clinical care for the White House Medical Unit.”
The inspector general’s report did not mention Jackson’s name.
separate Report of the Pentagon Inspector GeneralHe said, from 2021, that Jackson engaged in “inappropriate conduct” while he was the White House physician.
The White House referred requests for comment to the Department of Defense, which did not comment on the report’s findings. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report also said the White House Medical Office spent tens of thousands of dollars during the Trump administration on brand-name drugs rather than their less expensive generic counterparts.
From 2017 to 2019, the unit spent about $46,500 on Ambien, a sleeping medication, which the report says is “174 times more expensive than the generic equivalent.” The clinic also spent nearly $100,000 during that period on Provigil, a stimulant that is “55 times more expensive than the generic equivalent,” the report said.
In 2019, investigators tried to obtain previous records, but White House Medical Unit officials said they only kept pharmaceutical records for two years, according to the report.
“Without the oversight of qualified pharmacy staff, medication administration practices in the White House Medical Unit may have been vulnerable to prescription errors and inadequate medication administration, increasing risks to the health and safety of patients treated within the unit,” the report said.
It also detailed the dispensing of medications to ineligible White House staff, meaning some employees “received specialized care and free surgery at military medical treatment facilities.” The unit also distributed medications such as Ambien and Provigil “without verifying the identity of the patient,” the report said. Part of the report cited interviews with employees who worked in the White House dating back to 2009, without specifying when such incidents occurred.
The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General recommended a series of policy changes, including developing a pharmaceutical monitoring plan for the White House Medical Unit, developing procedures for storing, prescribing and dispensing medications, and improving methods for determining patient eligibility.
The Pentagon approved the recommendations, according to a letter attached to the report.