Medicare Forked Over $3.1M for Viagra for Seniors
Software error blamed in erectile-dysfunction error
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2011 5:45 PM CDT
Pfizer's Viagra is shown in its commercial packaging.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Medicare improperly used around $3.1 million in taxpayer funds to give senior citizens free Viagra, something that's supposed to be against the law, government investigators revealed today. As an erectile-dysfunction drug, Viagra is hardly essential medication, and Medicare "should not have covered these drugs," said George Reeb, who led the audit for the US Department of Health and Human Services. The purchases were made in 2007 and 2008, Bloomberg reports.

Medicare officials said the same thing had occurred, for an undisclosed amount, in 2009 and 2010. They blamed the problem on a computer error, and said they would try to recover the money from the private insurers who administer Medicare's prescription drug plans. The payments represent a relatively small portion of the $133 billion Medicare spent on prescription drugs over the 2007-2008 period, but administrators agreed that such purchases, which were banned in 2005, should be avoided.
 

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