Pharmacy owners agree to pay $3.2 million to resolve False Claims case
PHILADELPHIA – The owners of I&L Express Pharmacy in Philadelphia have agreed to pay millions to resolve a False Claims Act case against them, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced today.
Irina Minkovich and Yelena Babchinetskya have agreed to pay $3.2 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare for prescription medications that were not actually dispensed during the period January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2015.
These medications included such drugs as Lidoderm, Advair Diskus, Nexium, Plavix, Solaraze, Zeita, Ranexa, Celebrex, Spiriva Handihaler, Nasonex, Lovaza, Singulair, Prevacid, Valsartan, Aricept, and Lidocaine. I&L Express Pharmacy, Irina Minkovich, who is also I&L Express’ pharmacist, and Yelena Babchinetskya also agreed with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General to enter into an integrity agreement. The integrity agreement requires them to undertake substantial compliance obligations and to contract with an Independent Review Organization that will conduct quarterly third-party audits of their Medicare and Medicaid claims and drug inventory.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists have a responsibility to serve as gatekeepers of a closed system of prescription drug distribution. That responsibility was abused for profit here,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Taxpayer dollars should be spent on needed medications, not wasted on fraud and abuse.”
“Pharmacies are an integral partner in patient care, and they are expected to act with integrity,” said Maureen Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Regional Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “We take allegations of pharmacy fraud seriously, as evidenced by today’s $3.2 million settlement, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in an appropriate manner.”
The settled civil claims are allegations only. There has been no determination of civil liability.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. It was handled by Civil Chief Gregory B. David and Auditor George Niedzwicki.