Published: Dec 22, 2010 4:37 PM EST
Updated: Dec 22, 2010 1:38 PM EST

MIAMI (AP) - Federal investigators say a scam tricked Medicare into paying for nearly 10 times more units of an inhaler drug than were available in South Florida.

The investigation released Wednesday found that Medicare paid for 7 million units of the drug arformoterol even though the manufacturer and the three largest wholesalers reported selling about one-tenth of that amount in the area in 2008 and the first half of 2009.

Sales of the drug, which is used treat chronic bronchitis and emphysema, should have cost about $3.7 million during that period. But South Florida providers, mainly in Miami-Dade County, were paid $34 million.

Miami is responsible for roughly $3 billion a year in Medicare fraud. The recent scams followed a crackdown on fraud involving another inhaler drug.

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