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US charges pharmacy with defrauding military health care program

The Justice Department has accused a Florida pharmacy and the Los Angeles private equity firm that owns it of bilking a military health care program out of millions of dollars by pushing unneeded vitamins and creams.

PATIENT CARE AMERICA/FACEBOOK

By JAMES RUFUS KOREN | Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 23, 2018

The Justice Department has accused a Florida pharmacy and the Los Angeles private equity firm that owns it of bilking a military health care program out of millions of dollars by pushing unneeded vitamins and creams.

In a filing in federal court in Miami, federal prosecutors said compounding pharmacy Patient Care America billed Tricare for more than $68 million in prescriptions over eight months in 2014 and 2015.

Those payments, prosecutors allege, were tainted because PCA paid kickbacks to marketers who pushed unnecessary prescriptions, worked with doctors who wrote prescriptions without examining patients and illegally paid patients’ co-pays to encourage them to fill unneeded prescriptions.

The complaint alleges that two PCA executives and private equity firm Riordan Lewis & Haden knowingly submitted fraudulent claims to Tricare.

PCA, based near Fort Lauderdale, is owned by Riordan Lewis & Haden, a Westwood firm founded by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

Though the firm still bears Riordan’s name, he has long been retired and, according to public filings, no longer has a financial interest in the firm. The firm’s managing partner, J. Christopher Lewis, and an attorney representing it, did not return calls for comment.

Federal prosecutors filed the complaint last week, joining a lawsuit filed in 2015 by two former PCA employees who first alleged the kickback scheme.

Prosecutors are suing under the federal False Claims Act, a law that allows the government to seek payment of three times its actual damages. If prosecutors prevail and show PCA and Riordan Lewis improperly billed for $68 million in bogus prescriptions, it could lead to a payout of more than $200 million.

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