Companies target military families to sign up for medical pain creams

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-27 19:24:57-04

It's a big expensive problem for TRICARE, the Military Health Benefit System, that's been growing since 2013. Companies are using Facebook pages to advertise compound creams that are supposed to get rid of pain and stretch marks. They advertise it as a study and offer $250 per medication by just filling out a survey online after using the products. 

"It seems to me like it was a very well thought out plan the way they did everything," said Gloria Miller, a mom and Army wife that signed up to get the creams.

Miller said it sounded like a good idea to make some extra cash and hopefully see some results from the medications. She signed up to get stretch mark cream and pain-relief cream. 

"They apparently have the miracle cream, you know. It was something that everyone would want to try," said Miller. 

Miller, however, didn't get the incentive money she was promised. She used the medications for four months and only received the incentive money twice. 

"I felt so embarrassed that I allowed myself to fall into something like that," said Miller. 

On top of that, Miller never reordered the medications. It was automatically reshipped to her every month and she was still charged a co-pay for each medication, but she never saw a bill. 

Everything was online and on the phone. To sign up, Miller had to submit all of their information, including the military ID, drivers license number, social security number and insurance information, and then a doctor contacted her via phone. The consultation with the doctor on the phone lasted two minutes. 

After four months of using the creams, Miller said the company decided to end the study and told Miller that her last month of medications would be free. Miller said she contacted TRICARE just to be sure and found out that the company did charge TRICARE. One of the medications cost $4,700 and the other cost $9,700. Miller said she couldn't believe the creams cost $15,000 a month. She said the results from the creams weren't worth the price tag.

"Even if it had completely taken it away, I can't see that the cost or that the benefits outweigh the cost," said Miller. "Not when there are so many other things that are important."

A spokesperson from the Department of Defense, Laura Seal, told News Channel 25 that TRICARE is aware of the situation. In a statement, Seal said, "The Military Health System's highest obligation and number one priority is providing safe and effective care to service members and their families...Beginning May 1, 2015, TRICARE, began screening compound prescriptions to ensure that all ingredients are safe, effective, and within allowable cost limits." 

News Channel 25 also reached out to the companies allegedly involved in this but have not heard back from them.