A pharmacy services company has reached a $2.75 million settlement with the federal government to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that it allowed opioids and other controlled substances to be dispensed without a valid prescription over a three-year period, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
The May 5 agreement between AlixaRx LLC and the U.S. Department of Justice, filed in the Northern District of Georgia, also ended claims that AlixaRx billed Medicare Part D for claims that had already been reimbursed through claims paid to long-term care facilities under Medicare Part A. Texas-based AlixaRx, which dispenses prescription drugs and runs Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, operates in 30 states and has a hub as well as offices in the Atlanta area.
Emad Gharavi, a staff pharmacist for AlixaRx, filed the qui tam lawsuit in 2017, saying the company created false records and improperly billed the federal government for medications that were issued without a prescription. Gharavi also claimed AlixaRx falsified billing information to inflate prices and overcharged Medicare Part D from January 2014 through December 2017.
The lawsuit alleges AlixaRx violated the federal Controlled Substances Act in how it dispensed what the company described as “emergency prescriptions” of Schedule II drugs. Such drugs, such as opioid pain medications, require prescriptions from a physician and refills aren’t legally permitted.
The Justice Department said that an investigation showed AlixaRx routinely abused the emergency prescription provisions of the law by requesting and obtaining verbal “emergency” refills from prescribers without a true emergency. The company then used the fake emergencies for simple refills of medications, and failed to get written prescriptions within seven days after the verbal authorization.
The settlement did not include an admission or denial of guilt.