The Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic has accepted state and federal reprimands as reasonable punishment for having charged patients for medicine that it received free of charge.
"We have concluded this and are putting it to bed. There was no malicious intent, no individuals profited," Robert J. DeVita, the clinic's executive director, said last week.
From July 1988 through March 1992, the clinic's pharmacy supplemented its medicine chest with an estimated 40 tablets a week received as free samples from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Patients and their insurance companies were billed for the free medications, the state Pharmacy Examining Board discovered.
The board reprimanded the clinic last month for unprofessional behavior and assessed it $50. The U.S. Department of Justice fined it $30,000 last year-which is four times the estimated gain the hospitals made on the drugs.
The clinic, which kept no records of lot numbers or expiration dates of the freebies, demoted its managing pharmacist.
"These unfortunate circumstances pertain to errors in professional judgment, not malicious activity," it said in a statement.
No employee profited even if the clinic did, the board said.
"It was an unfortunate set of circumstances. We were supplying these drugs to hospitals in needy countries, in Central America and central Europe," Mr. DeVita said.
"As a result of those furnishings of those samples, we did have some samples diverted and approximately 40 tablets (a week)were added to our own stock."