Under White House physician Ronny Jackson, the West Wing medical office has routinely functioned as a “grab and go” office, with prescription medication often handed out casually to staffers without an examination, CNN reported.
According to five current and former employees of the medical unit who spoke with CNN, prescription medications like Ambien and Provigil were regularly handed out without paper work under Jackson, who has been nicknamed “candy man” because of how casually he gave out medication. One outgoing White House President Obama administration official was reportedly given 20 pills of Provigil as a “parting gift” from Jackson, one CNN source said.
The practice of handing out sleep aids like Ambien or focus medication like Provigil on overseas flights — to staff and journalists — has been a longtime, accepted practice within the U.S. government, according to CNN. Jackson himself has been open about his recommendation that sleep aids are helpful for overseas travel.
But the employees who spoke with CNN said the “loose control of the controlled medications” has been a “huge problem” under Jackson, who directed employees to “just give people these meds when they ask for it,” according to CNN.
“We would just hand them out. They’d come in and say, ‘Hey, can I have an Ambien?’ And we would just hand them out. Without having to sign a thing,” a source who worked for Jackson told CNN. “We all had a huge problem with it.”
Employees were even reportedly directed to give staffers Ambien for their children if they asked for it and had to handle the processing of prescriptions that were intended for a person other than who it was prescribed to, according to CNN.
Jackson was nominated by President Donald Trump to run the Veterans Affairs Department after Trump fired former Secretary David Shulkin, but Jackson withdrew his nomination on Thursday, following an onslaught of reports of improper behavior. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee spoke with more than 20 military personnel who alleged Jackson had an issue with “excessive drinking” on the job and loosely handed out medication.
Read the full CNN report here.