AG’s office urges DNA research participants to call Medicaid fraud hotline

LMPD launches investigation into group claiming to collect DNA for cancer screening

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office on Monday issued a warning to people who gave a DNA sample cheek swab to a group seen around Louisville in recent weeks.

WAVE 3 News first broke the story last week about a group claiming to be collecting DNA evidence to perform cancer screens. They’ve been spotted setting up shop in several parking lots around town, operating out of a van with a table.

Now, Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office is urging anyone who allowed the group to take a DNA swab to call his office’s Medicaid fraud hotline. And late Monday afternoon, Metro Council President David James confirmed to WAVE 3 News that LMPD is investigating the case.

Beshear said if the group was conducting a cancer study, there are steps they would have needed to follow to protect the study and the people participating.

There are also red flags people can look out for to make sure they don’t get caught up in a hoax. Rachel Sheppard, a clinical research monitor at the University of Louisville, said there are ways to tell if a study is real.

Anyone who’s been asked for any type of information should be given an informed consent document to sign. It should detail all risks and benefits of the research and explain in detail the procedures that will be done.

“If you are not given a consent and not provided a copy then that is not a valid research study,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard added that in a research study, you have the right to ask as many questions as you need and get answers. People conducting research also should be clearly identified.

“You should be able to ask multiple questions and asked to your satisfaction,” Sheppard said. “We’re not able to enroll people in research without answering questions and providing all information until they feel comfortable.”

Sheppard also said anyone who got swabbed should have been told exactly where their information is going, how long it will be kept on file and what exactly is going to happen with it. The patient also should have been given a revocation form allowing him or her to pull out of the research.

Several participants told WAVE 3 News they received none of that information. They also said the questions they asked were never answered, and the group administering the DNA tests had no visible identification.

The Medicaid fraud hotline is 877-228-7384. Other resources are available as well:

+ To check research done by the University of Louisville, click here.

+ To share a concern about a research study or check its validity, you can call the Institute Review Board at 502-852-5188.

+ To discuss benefit, coverage, claims payment or other concerns, call 1-800-224-2273.

+ To report suspected fraud, call 1-877-772-3379.

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