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Metairie pharmacist charged with Medicaid fraud

A 42-year-old Avondale man was recently charged with five counts of Medicaid fraud arising from a prescription drug scam.

According to the Louisiana Attorney General's office, 51 Medicaid recipients from the New Orleans area who were recruited for the fraud scam have also been arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including Medicaid fraud.

The scam was reportedly investigated after the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals filed a complaint concerning fraudulent prescriptions for OxyContin, hydrocodone, and alprazolam coming from a medical clinic in Baton Rouge by the name of Bluebonnet Medical Plaza. The Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Unit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Louisiana Pharmacy Board, and a number of local law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation.

As it turns out, the clinic was non-existent, and the majority of the prescriptions had been filled by QVL Pharmacy in Metairie. QVL Pharmacy apparently had an agreement with the state of Louisiana to provide Medicaid patients with pharmaceutical services.

The former chief pharmacist at QVL reportedly created the clinic to issue fraudulent prescriptions. He and his co-conspirators then recruited Medicaid recipients and had them fill the prescriptions at QVL using their Medicaid cards. Medicaid ended up paying out over $100,000 in the scam. The pharmacist would apparently receive a fixed sum for each prescription and the Medicaid recruits got a cut of the money or kept some of the prescription drugs.

Sources said there was only one pharmacist involved in the scheme, though authorities are still investigating the case and more arrests are expected.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Metairie pharmacist accused of running Medicaid drug scam," Michelle Hunter, 22 June 2011.

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