San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Caja employee under investigation for emergency drug purchases

Costa Rica’s Social Security System (Caja) is embroiled in yet another scandal revealed recently in an investigation by the daily La Nación. In a period of nine months between September 2010 and June 2011, the Caja purchased more than ₡468 million ($919,000) in emergency prescription drugs from a medical supply company known as Seven Pharma Limited.

The drug purchases were ordered by the Caja’s Hans Vindas, a Costa Rican whose mother is listed as the treasurer of Selah Medical Supply S.A., a subsidiary of Seven Pharma Limited. The various drug companies are run by a citizen of India, Murali Krishna Bheemireddy. Emergency drug orders by the Caja are subject to much less scrutiny than normal purchases. Until the scandal came to light, Vindas was in charge of emergency drug purchasing at the Caja.

Three separate investigations of the drug purchases are ongoing. Caja officials are conducting an internal investigation, and the Legislative Assembly and the Prosecutor’s Office are also investigating.

Between January and May of this year, Seven Pharma sold the Caja more than ₡171 million ($336,000) worth of “emergency” pharmaceuticals, although the company was late delivering the drugs.

Most of the drugs bought from Seven Pharma and Alpha Pharma were cancer and heart treatments, along with antibiotics.

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