Telehealth companies rake in $15M+ from patients looking for ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine

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A slew of virtual healthcare providers have made millions from selling online COVID-19 consultations, as well as prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, The Intercept reported Sept. 28. 

An anonymous hacker gave the publication access to hundreds of thousands of records from two digital health companies, CadenceHealth.us and Ravkoo. The data shows that people concerned about COVID-19 or suffering from the virus have paid at least $15 million for consultations and prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, according to the report. 

Misinformation online has fueled rumors that ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine can treat COVID-19 despite physicians' disagreements with the claims. In August, the CDC and FDA warned that COVID-19 patients should not use ivermectin, which is an anti-parasite drug usually used to treat infections in animals. 

Telemedicine provider SpeakWithAnMD.com, which uses Cadence Health as a platform, charges people $90 for a phone consultation with America's Frontline Doctors-trained physicians who then prescribe treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19, according to the report. The drugs are then delivered by Ravkoo, a service that works with local pharmacies to ship drugs to patients' doors. 

The Intercept corroborated the hacker's data from Cadence and Ravkoo by comparing it to publicly available information. After reaching out to Cadence for comment, a spokesperson told the publication that the platform severed ties with SpeakWithAnMD.com and has been shut down. 

The hacked data includes information on 281,000 patients created in Cadence's database between July 16 and Sept. 12, 90 percent of whom were referred from America's Frontline Doctors. During that time frame, patients paid an estimated $6.7 million for consultations. 

The hacker also provided records of 340,000 prescriptions that Ravkoo filled between Nov. 3, 2020 and Sept. 11, 2021, amounting to an estimated $8.5 million in drug costs. Forty-six percent of the prescriptions were for hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin, and 30 percent were for zinc or azithromycin, two other ineffective medications that SpeakWithAnMD.com physicians prescribe in their COVID-19 consultations, according to the report. 

America's Frontline Doctors is an anti-vaccine group that was formed to speak out against the government's efforts to contain COVID-19, according to a Jan. 12 Washington Post report. The group is partnered with SpeakWithAnMD.com, which told The Intercept that it "is not part of the anti-vax movement" and does "not oppose vaccinations." 

In a statement about the data hacking, a lawyer for America's Frontline Doctors told the publication that the company takes the issues "very seriously," and that for the organization, "positive patient-physician outcomes and confidentiality is critical. We understand that the information from this was reported to the FBI, and AFLDS launched a third-party audit and are responding to this issue with the utmost attention." 

Ravkoo CEO Alpesh Patel told The Intercept that the company stopped doing business with SpeakWithAnMD.com and America's Frontline Doctors at the end of August because "the volume over there went up crazy, and we didn’t feel comfortable. And we don’t have that much capacity to fill that many prescriptions." 

Click here to view the full report.

 

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