CHICAGO (CN) – Nursing home drug-provider Omnicare, which paid nearly $100 million 2 years ago to settle whistleblower and kickback lawsuits, fired a pharmacist for reporting its frauds, and may still be overcharging and switching drugs, Illinois and Uncle Sam say in a new federal complaint.
Omnicare “receives millions of dollars annually as reimbursement from the government for services funded under the Medicaid, Medicare, CHAMPUS, and other government third-payor health insurance programs,” according to the complaint.
Illinois and Uncle Sam say Omnicare “defrauded the government by dispensing drugs with different National Drug Code on the label than the actual drug dispensed in order to inflate government reimbursements.”
In November 2009, Omnicare coughed up $98 million to settle whistleblower lawsuits claiming that it paid and solicited kickbacks in violation of the False Claims Act. Federal prosecutors then called Covington, Ky.-based Omnicare “the nation’s largest nursing home pharmacy.” IVAX Pharmaceuticals had to pay $14 million in that case.
The new complaint stemmed from allegations from whistleblower Peter Ordeanu, who worked as a pharmacist for Omnicare and its predecessors Procare and Enloe, from 2006 to 2011.
Ordeanu came to find out that “Omnicare regularly inflated the amount of money billed for by dispensing drugs with a National Drug Code number on the label that was different than the drug dispensed,” the complaint states. It then details the complex labeling and dispensation processes by which Omnicare allegedly bilked the government for millions of dollars.
For instance, according to the complaint: “While working at Enloe Drugs, relator Ordeanu was verifying a prescription for vancomycin in oral liquid compound form and the price was more than $1,000.00. Each oral liquid compound requires two vials, and each vial costs approximately $2.00.”
Ordeanu reported some label mismatches, but “was informed that the Assistant Director Dino Afendras approved the practice and it was company policy to have drugs dispensed that did not match the NDC number on the label of the prescription as long as it is the same chemical compound,” according to the complaint.
After Ordeanu mentioned various other discrepancies, Omnicare fired him “in retaliation for disclosing Omnicare’s illegal activities to his immediate supervisors, managers, and directors at defendant Omnicare,” according to the complaint.
He sued under the False Claims Act and the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act.
The complaint does not state how much Omnicare overcharged the state and federal governments, but it claims that since 2008, “the government has been damaged in an amount that is believed to be in the millions from Omnicare’s northern Illinois facility alone.”
Uncle Sam adds that the fraud continued after Omnicare fired Ordeanu, and says it “may continue to pay defendant for illegally switched prescriptions.”
The governments seek treble damages.
Ordeanu is represented by Zane D. Smith.