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.
The settlement resulted from a joint investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and the United States Attorney’s Office for 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.
The case was investigated by HHS-OIG Special Agent Martin Rowe; DEA Diversion Investigators Josh Barnes and Saul Melendez; Investigator Kimberly Reinken-Creamer of the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia; and Law Clerk Alison Slagowitz of the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Georgia. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney J. Thomas Clarkson.