Pharmacists investigated over claiming for undispensed drugs

Irish Pharmacy Union says there may be ‘isolated cases’ where this occurred

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned pharmacists against claiming payments for medicines that have not been dispensed to patients. Photograph: iStock

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned pharmacists against claiming payments for medicines that have not been dispensed to patients. Photograph: iStock

 

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned pharmacists against claiming payments for medicines that have not been dispensed to patients.

A number of pharmacists are under investigation for claiming for drugs which were ultimately not provided to patients.

This can happen in circumstances where, for example, some drugs are not available when a pharmacist is fulfilling a prescription but the patient does not return later to collect them.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) acknowledged there may be “isolated cases” where this may have occurred.

It pointed out that the HSE, in correspondence with pharmacists, acknowledged “the vast majority of pharmacy claims are reasonable, valid and in compliance with contractual agreements in place”.

“To the extent that a small number of pharmacies may have submitted inappropriate claims, the IPU has cooperated with the HSE on a mechanism to regularise their position.”

Pharmacies are subject to regular and ongoing inspection by the HSE and other State agencies, including the pharmacy regulator the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and the Health Products Regulatory Authority, the IPU said. “In the vast majority of cases no issues arise.”

The HSE says a claim should be submitted only where a pharmacist has a genuine expectation of a patient returning to collect the remainder of a prescription.

In a statement the HSE said it wrote to all pharmacies last month. It said recent inspections showed some pharmacists “have raised and submitted claims for reimbursement when the product has been entered in their pharmacy system as an owing and neither supplied nor intended for supply, as other claims for reimbursement of the same product has been made in the interim.”

It said all pharmacists have been asked to review their records and if they believed an issue arises were asked to contact the HSE by today, Thursday.