CVS settles with Zoeller

Nick Rees Feb. 9, 2010, 3:14pm


INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - The state of Indiana's complaint against CVS Pharmacy stores that employed two pharmacists with expired licenses has ended in a $1.95 million settlement, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has announced.

The case, which came as a result of an investigation by Zoeller's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, alleged that CVS employed two pharmacists - Morris "Mo" Skirvin at a Nashville store and Edward Certain at a Marion store - at different times between 1997-2007 who had expired licenses.

"When consumers get prescriptions filled, they do so trusting that the person behind the pharmacy counter dispensing medication is up to date on their licensing," Zoeller said. "That trust was violated by these two individuals."

The investigation revealed that Skirvin's pharmacist license had expired in 1990, before CVS acquired his employer, Hook-SupeRx. Skirvin allegedly did not renew his license and then forged a new one each renewal period.

CVS came forward after the MFCU began investigating Skirvin's license, disclosing that another pharmacist, Certain, had been practicing without a license. Certain had once held a valid license, which he let expire in 2002 and did not renew.

Skirvin and Certain are estimated to have filled 60,778 prescriptions according to the investigation, and overbilled the Indiana Medicaid program for fees that they were not entitled to.

"To its credit, CVS has resolved this situation in a responsible way: First it came forward and acknowledged that a pharmacist with an expired license had been employed at its Marion store," Zoeller said. "Now CVS will implement a screening program to ensure that none of its pharmacist employees are operating without a license."

CVS will set into motion several consumer protections as part of the settlement, including verifying that pharmacist employees and contractors have valid Indiana pharmacist's licenses. Applicants for CVS pharmacist positions will also be required to disclose any aliases they have used and whether they are ineligible to hold a license.

CVS will also perform record checks within 90 days of this agreement on its Indiana pharmacist employees through the Indiana Professional Licensing Board to verify that all are appropriately licensed. Similar checks will also be performed every six months over the next three years under the agreement.

The $1.95 million settlement is not considered a fee, fine or admission of wrongdoing and will be used to reimburse the Indiana Medicaid program and investigative costs.

A related licensing agreement was approved on Monday by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy connected to CVS' agreement with Zoeller's office.

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