Government seeks $21.8 million from PharMerica for alleged kickbacks

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The federal government is going after $21.8 million in penalties from Tampa, FL-based PharMerica Drug Systems for allegedly paying kickbacks to nursing home owners to steer business its way.

PharMerica also would be barred for 10 years from participating in federal government health programs under a proposal the Health and Human Services Department inspector general announced Wednesday. 

HHS charges PharMerica purchased a small Virginia pharmacy, Hollins Manor I, in 1997 for $7.2 million in return for a commitment from the seller, to refer its Medicaid prescription drug business to PharMerica. Hollins Manor also owned 17 nursing homes and eight assisted living facilities serving 2,000 patients. The Inspector General said the purchase price was excessive because the smaller company had a nearly nonexistent operating history.
 
PharMerica, a subsidiary of hospital supplier AmerisourceBergen Corp., Chesterbrook, PA, has 60 days to appeal.