Walgreens Boots Alliance, the holding company that owns the controlling shares of Walgreens Drug Stores and several other health care companies, will pay $269.2 million to settle two separate whistleblower lawsuits.
In one case, Walgreens agreed to pay $209.2 million to settle allegations that it fraudulently billed Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health care programs for hundreds of thousands of insulin pens that beneficiaries did not need.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Walgreens configured its electronic systems so that its pharmacists couldn’t dispense less than a full box of five insulin pens, even when patients didn’t need that much insulin. Walgreens then submitted false data to Medicare and Medicaid indicating the total number of doses patients received didn’t go over the programs’ limits.
As a result of this practice, U.S. taxpayers paid millions of dollars for insulin that many beneficiaries didn’t need while wasting “substantial quantities of valuable medication.”
Walgreens agreed to pay the U.S. $60 million to resolve the second whistleblower lawsuit, which alleged the pharmacy concealed drug discounts that made prescription medications cheaper for members of its Prescription Savings Club.
Medicare and Medicaid contracts generally stipulate that pharmacies and drug manufacturers can’t charge the government health care programs more for drugs than others pay.
According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Prescription Savings Club gave customers discounts when they filled prescriptions at Walgreens, but Walgreens withheld those discounts from U.S. taxpayers, contrary to Medicare and Medicaid requirements.
“Medicare and Medicaid provide essential health care coverage to millions of people across this country,” the U.S. Attorney General said. “The financial integrity of these programs depends on truthful and accurate billing by pharmacies like Walgreens. Overbilling and improper billing of Medicare and Medicaid unduly burden taxpayers and put the solvency of these vital health care programs at risk.”