(AP) -- Police in western New York have charged 33 people so far in an investigation that shows a new kind of supplier in the illicit drug trade.
They say medical patients, including many who rely on Medicaid for prescriptions, have become a popular way to get drugs like OxyContin to the street.
The patients see a doctor, or several doctors, and come away with prescriptions they sell to a dealer for as much as $1,000. Drug Enforcement Administration agents say the dealer can get $7,200 for the pills in that one bottle.
A federal report last year estimated 65,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in New York and four other states visited doctors in 2006 and 2007 to get prescriptions for the same type of controlled substances. The cost to Medicaid was $63 million.