Pharmacies in spotlight over dispensing fees from the HSE

A number of pharmacies are still under investigation after €12m was recouped from Lloyds Pharmacy for overclaiming dispensing fees from the HSE.
Pharmacies in spotlight over dispensing fees from the HSE

A number of pharmacies are still under investigation after €12m was recouped from Lloyds Pharmacy for overclaiming dispensing fees from the HSE.

Health Minister Simon Harris signalled last night that the HSE may still refer cases to gardaí or to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

The Lloyds Pharmacy overcharging scandal featured in an RTÉ investigation programme last year.

Mr Harris said a HSE review of phased dispensing in 2014 raised concerns about the level of claims.

Phased dispensing involves a controlled release of medication to patients for safety or other reasons. Pharmacies get special fees for such services.

The Dail heard the HSE in 2015 began an investigation into dispensing fee claims by Lloyds Pharmacy Group.

This resulted in disciplinary proceedings being brought against individual pharmacies. Lloyds later agreed to a full repayment of over-claimed fees, resulting in €12m being recouped. Phased dispensing by the group is now being monitored.

Mr Harris confirmed that, following the Lloyds case, other cases were now under investigation by the HSE’s Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS).

“The HSE considers that this was the best possible outcome in this case, with full return of moneys owed. The PCRS is also examining other claiming issues and is conducting investigations into claiming by a number of other contractors.”

Furthermore, the HSE sought advice from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland during the Lloyds investigation and would “make any appropriate referrals required concerning investigations”, added Mr Harris.

Fianna Fáail’s Dara Calleary questioned what could have been done with the €12m reclaimed.

The oversight in the claims was “damning indictment” of the HSE, he said.

The €12m could provide thousands of medical cards or some 600,000 extra homehelp hours, TDs were told.

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