Saskatoon pharmacy fined for overcharging Indigenous Services Canada thousands of dollars

Pharmaceuticals on a shelf at a pharmacy in Kingston, Ontario on Friday December 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A national pharmacy chain has been fined for ordering a Saskatoon pharmacist to over-bill Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) for drugs used to treat hepatitis C.

SRx pharmacy in Saskatoon has been fined $30,000 for overbilling medication – the largest fine the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals has ever imposed.

On top of the $30,000 fine, they will also have to pay $25,000 in costs associated with the investigation, bringing the total to $55,000.

The details of the case against SRx Pharma Inc. are contained in a December 2022 decision by a discipline committee of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals, the province’s regulatory body for pharmacists.

SRx opened its Saskatoon pharmacy location in 2017, under the management of a pharmacist identified in the decision as “DM.”

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DM first raised concerns in December 2017, when the manager working in the pharmacy reported inconsistencies in how medication was billed to ISC between June 2017 and June 2018.

The initial concerns began after a patient came into the pharmacy in June 2017 with a prescription for Epclusa, a drug used to treat hepatitis C. The manager noticed a discrepancy between the province’s price for a vial of the medicine and what ISC was billed, and asked SRx president Adesh Vora whether the drug was being properly billed.

According to the decision, Vora told the manager that his other Canadian pharmacies had always billed the program in this way.

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The billing issue was once again brought forward when DM gave his notice. The decision states that, had he been called to testify, DM would have reported that Vora said he and his team had looked into the Saskatchewan billing situation for hepatitis drugs, and insisted a markup was allowed under the ISC’s program.

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The college sent DM’s complaint to ISC, which hired an outside firm to do a forensic audit on SRx’s billing. The audit found that Vora and an employee at LPG had worked together to conceal credits and discounts the wholesaler provided to SRx.

They wrote that as a result, ISC was over-billed by at least $73,000, and possibly as much as just over $265,000.

After receiving the audit reports, ISC sent a letter to SRx demanding the return of the minimum figure of just over $73,000. SRx complied, paying out the sum in Sept. 2021.

The college notified SRx in October 2021 it would be subject to a discipline hearing, on charges that included over-billing ISC, and directing DM to contact LPG and have invoices altered to match the maximum costs under the program.

SRx pleaded guilty to proprietary misconduct under the Pharmacy and Pharmacy Disciplines Act.


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