PharMerica vows to appeal the government's $21.8 million charge

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PharMerica, the Tampa, FL-based pharmaceutical company accused by the government of paying kickbacks to a Roanoke, VA pharmacy for clients, heatedly refutes the accusations, according to the Associated Press. Federal investigators are seeking $21.8 million from the company and attempting to bar the company from doing business with federal health-care programs for 10 years.

"I don't know what the motivation (of the government) is," Mike
Kilpatrick, vice president of corporate affairs and investor relations at PharMerica's parent company AmerisourceBergen, told the AP. "We're going to contest the facts."

The accusations arose from a six-year federal fraud investigation that ended last year in a $4.25 million settlement with HCMF Corp., a
corporation based in Roanoke and Blacksburg, VA that owned a nursing home and assisted-living company, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. William C. Cranwell, the former chairman of HCMF, pleaded guilty in 2001 to federal charges of defrauding Medicaid and Medicare.

Federal investigators charge that PharMerica purchased Hollins Manor I in 1997 for an excessive $7.2 million in return for a commitment from the seller to refer its Medicaid prescription drug business to PharMerica. Hollins Manor owned 17 nursing homes and eight assisted living facilities serving 2,000 patients.

Kilpatrick said the company had cooperated with the earlier federal fraud investigation and the inspector general's probe, according the AP.