HHS' inspector general's office is seeking $21.8 million in a kickback case against a pharmacy subsidiary of hospital supplier AmerisourceBergen Corp., Chesterbrook, Pa. In a civil administrative proceeding, the office alleged that the unit, PharMerica Drug Systems, Tampa, Fla., overpaid for a pharmacy business in return for Medicaid referrals from the seller's 17 nursing homes and eight assisted-living facilities for seven years. The government is seeking three times the purchase price plus $200,000 in civil monetary penalties and to exclude PharMerica from federal healthcare programs for 10 years. In a securities filing, AmerisourceBergen said the case relates to PharMerica's 1997 acquisition of Hollins Manor I for $7.2 million. The inspector general's office said the institutional pharmacy had little operating history to justify the price, so the purchase price represented a kickback for future referrals. AmerisourceBergen noted that the PharMerica-Hollins Manor deal predated the 1999 acquisition of PharMerica by Bergen Brunswick Corp. and the 2001 merger of Bergen Brunswick with AmeriSource Health Corp. The company said PharMerica believes the allegations are without merit and intends to defend itself against the charges. PharMerica has until Aug. 21 to appeal. -- by Vince Galloro
HHS accuses AmerisourceBergen unit of kickbacks
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