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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Three Florida Pharmacies Agree to Pay $830,707 to Resolve Allegations They Fraudulently Billed Federal Health Care Programs

Miami, Florida – Habana Hospital Pharmacy, Inc., Longevity Drugs, LLC, and Forest Hill Pharmacy, LLC, all Florida-based pharmacies, have agreed to pay $830,707.19 to resolve allegations they fraudulently used collaborative pharmacy practice agreements to bill federal health care programs for unlawfully prescribed medications.

The United States previously alleged that five Florida-based pharmacies, including Habana Hospital Pharmacy, Inc., Longevity Drugs, LLC, Forest Hills Pharmacy, LLC, APB&J Holdings Corporation, and Tropic Pharmacy Holdings, Inc., violated the False Claims Act through the fraudulent use of collaborative pharmacy practice agreements.  Representatives of the five pharmacies signed the settlement agreement.

A collaborative pharmacy practice agreement is a written agreement between a physician and pharmacist that allows the pharmacist to provide specific patient care services for chronic health conditions to the physician’s patients.  Services provided by the pharmacist are outlined in the written agreement and must be in accordance with Florida law. 

The United States previously alleged that the settling pharmacies used unlawful collaborative practice agreements to delegate prescribing authority from physicians to pharmacists, resulting in unlawful prescriptions, and used the same collaborative practice agreements to write and fill prescriptions without any physician involvement.  It was alleged that the fraudulent scheme resulted in the submission of false claims to federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Omar Pérez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), announced the settlement.

The settlement resolved allegations in a lawsuit filed by Beatriz Morales in federal court in Miami, Florida.  The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The Act allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in this case.  The whistleblower share to be awarded in connection with the settlement is $166,141.44. 

HHS-OIG investigated the matter.  Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Feeley handled the litigation.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 17-cv-80871. 

A copy of the settlement agreement is available here.

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Topic(s): 
False Claims Act
Health Care Fraud
Contact: 
Marlene Rodriguez Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Public Affairs Officer USAFLS.News@usdoj.gov
Updated June 29, 2022