Walgreens, legally identified as Walgreens Boots Alliance, is the second-most popular pharmacy across the United States. With more than 13,000 stores spread throughout the contiguous United States, Hawaii, and Alaska, Walgreens has secured a market share of 15.6. percent in terms of the nation’s retail pharmaceutical industry.
Prescription drug prices in the United States are substantially more expensive than in any other country on the planet. While Americans know the struggle of not being able to readily afford their medications all too well, they typically don’t associate pharmacies with being responsible for gouging their pocketbooks.
Believe it or not, however, Walgreens isn’t so innocent in terms of keeping the prices of pharmaceutical drugs as low as possible. Just last week, the company settled a lawsuit that alleged Walgreens had consistently, consciously overcharged Medicare and other healthcare coverage plans paid for by both state governments and the United States federal government.
Walgreens effectively defrauded four-fifths of the country’s independent states – to be precise, there were 39 states affected by the fraudulent activity – and the United States government by engaging in the illegal, unethical, wrongful behaviors of upping the prices on all the prescription drugs Medicare and similar programs were to pay for. Walgreens officials who were directly involved with the scandal had modified the prices of prescription drugs by both falsifying them and inflating them.
The lawsuit was brought against Walgreens on the grounds that the company had broken rules laid out by the False Claims Act. Such a settlement is the most substantial ever recorded against any retail pharmacy.
Here’s How Word Of Walgreens’ Illegal Activities Made Their Way Around
Although the lawsuit was settled just a week ago, court filings that directly led to the body of evidence that implicated Walgreens in the scandal were first entered back in 2012 by a whistleblower who worked for the retail pharmaceutical giant up until the point at which he filed the lawsuit.
Marc D. Baker’s 2012 lawsuit contained a substantial amount of evidence to back up allegations that Walgreens was regularly engaging in illegal activities. Evidently, Walgreens employees knew these practices were illegal the entire time they were carried out.
The whistleblower’s initial court filing claimed that Walgreens – as a system, not just in a handful of isolated stores – received discount offers on their prescriptions that were excessively deeply discounted. Although pharmacists and pharmacy technicians reported such discounts to higher-ups in the chain of command at Walgreens, those higher-ups banded together to prevent the total of prescription medication discounts from being reported to authorities and the company’s accounting firm to be represented in its annual financial statements.
Those higher-ups also didn’t mention those discounts when communicating with Medicaid officials as part of seeking full reimbursements for the many millions of dollars the company had allegedly profited. In actuality, Walgreens pocketed the money that Medicaid and other programs offered up. They claimed to have paid full price for drugs that were deeply discounted.
Walgreens is on the hook for $60 million, a sum that is set to be distributed among the 39 states that were affected by the scandal and the United States government.
As if Walgreens hadn’t done enough bad already, the company will also be responsible for defending claims that it had improperly billed various governmental providers of healthcare costs for insulin pens over an 11-year period beginning in 2006. This certainly adds insult to injury for Walgreens.
Learn more about Drug Lawsuits.