June 13-- Dodge County's Rhine Drug Company and Andrew “Carter” Clements, Jr. agreed to pay a total of $2.175 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act.
This settlement is the largest False Claims Act recovery with a pharmacy or pharmacist and largest recovery of civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act in the history of the Southern District of Georgia.
Based on its investigation, the United States contended that Rhine Drug Company and Clements violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims to Medicare for drugs that Rhine Drug Company did not dispense to patients. The United States further contended that Rhine Drug Company and Clements violated the Controlled Substances Act by negligently failing to make, keep, or furnish certain records as required by federal law.
Acting United States Attorney James Durham said, “Pharmacists are supposed to bill only for what they dispense and they’re to keep accurate records of the prescription drugs they let walk out of their pharmacies. This U. S. Attorney’s Office will hold accountable those pharmacists and pharmacies that seek financial gain at the expense of the public by cutting corners.”
“Billing Medicare for prescription drugs that were never dispensed to patients is a serious allegation,” said Derrick L Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the HHS-OIG Office in Atlanta. “Our agency, in concert with our law enforcement partners, is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of all federally funded health care programs.”
“Americans rely on medical professionals, to include pharmacists and pharmacy owners, to keep accurate records of controlled substances, and the DEA is committed to stopping individuals from engaging in such unlawful acts,” said Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “We are satisfied that Rhine Drug Company and Clements are being held accountable for their alleged violations of the law.”
Rhine Drug Company and Clements fully cooperated with the investigation and promptly approached the United States to reach a resolution. The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. While this settlement fully resolves the allegations against Clements and Rhine Drug Company, investigations remain ongoing as to others.
Today, June 13th, the U.S. Government announced the settlement of a civil matter involving Rhine Drug Company. It all began in 2015. Rhine Drug Company has admitted no fault as part of the settlement.
In the wake of the settlement, Rhine Drug Company owner and pharmacist, Carter Clements, issued the following statement:
“Rhine Drug Company has proudly served middle and south-central Georgia since 1906, when my great-great-great-uncle first opened for business. Over those 111 years, and through four generations of pharmacists, we have worked hard every day to earn and keep the trust of each of our customers, who depend on us to be there for them and their families. Though we do not believe that we have done anything wrong and therefore did not accept any fault in the settlement, this matter has been stressful and costly. Now that the matter is closed, we can now return our attention to what matters most: seeing to the best health and livelihoods of our patients and their families. We also look forward to continuing our quest to be the best. A truly excellent ultra-rural pharmacy with a staff striving to show our patients, and even the government, what amazing innovative potential we have.”
“Blessedly, the matter has not affected, and the settlement will not affect, any aspect of the pharmacy, including our staff, services or hours. We are grateful to our patient community for allowing us to care for your families, friends and neighbors for over a century, and we look forward to continuing working hard every day for many years to come.”