Long-term care pharmacy company PharMerica dispensed controlled narcotics without valid prescriptions and billed Medicare for the drugs, the federal government has charged in a False Claims Act lawsuit.
The government suit stems from a 2009 whistleblower complaint filed by Jennifer Denk, a former PharMerica employee. The company routinely filled nursing homes’ orders for oxycodone and other Schedule II narcotics, even if there was not a proper prescription written by a doctor, Denk alleged. PharMerica also billed Medicare for these drugs, according to the suit.
“The complaint that we are filing today reflects the abiding commitment of the Justice Department to the qui tam process, encouraging people with information about alleged fraud and abuse to report it in a timely and effective manner,” James L. Santelle, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, said Friday.
PharMerica “disputes the premises of the lawsuit” and will “vigorously defend itself,” the company stated yesterday.
Whistleblowers in these types of cases stand to receive a portion of monetary damages recovered by the government.
In June, PharMerica share prices slid on news that it had lost a major contract for skilled nursing pharmacy services with Kindred Healthcare. PharMerica retains its position as a major player in the sector, but has also faced increasing competition from relative newcomer AlixaRx.