The Lookout

University of Miami reveals loss of $14 million worth of cancer drugs

The Lookout

An investigation has revealed that $14 million worth of cancer-fighting drugs went missing from the University of Miami's cancer center. An employee was caught on camera allegedly stealing the prescription medication.

The school reports that valuable medications were taken from its Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center over a three-year period, according to CBS Miami and The Miami Herald.

The investigation began in 2011 when a pharmacy buyer hand-counted syringes of the cancer drug Neulasta—which costs $2,600 per dose—and noticed "unusual amounts" of drugs missing from the center's inventory.

That led to the arrest of 55-year-old pharmaceutical technician Manuel Gerardo Pacheco, who was charged with four counts of grand theft, two counts of trafficking in contraband prescription drugs, and one count of dealing in stolen property, according to the Herald.

Pacheco has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial starting in September. His attorney says authorities are making his client into a scapegoat for the entire $14 million loss, even though other employees also had access to the cancer drugs.

A hidden surveillance camera also showed Pacheco allegedly removing medication from where the pricey drugs were stored and putting them in his pocket. A subsequent search of his home revealed other boxes of Neulasta and other cancer-related drugs worth $734,639, according to CBS Miami.

The Herald reported that Pacheco would, in turn, allegedly sell the drugs at a much reduced price. The newspaper noted that an active "gray market" for expensive drugs exists in Latin America and other places.

The university released a statement saying it has already improved its security and inventory procedures.

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