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Originally published Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 2:26 PM

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CVS settles Indiana complaint over 2 pharmacists

Pharmacy giant CVS will pay $1.95 million and verify that all of its pharmacists are licensed in Indiana to settle a state complaint that pharmacists with expired licenses dispensed prescriptions for several years at two of its drugstores, the state attorney general's office said Tuesday.

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS —

Pharmacy giant CVS will pay $1.95 million and verify that all of its pharmacists are licensed in Indiana to settle a state complaint that pharmacists with expired licenses dispensed prescriptions for several years at two of its drugstores, the state attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Investigators with the agency's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit alleged CVS had at different times between 1997 and 2007 employed two pharmacists whose licenses had expired at stores in Nashville and Marion.

CVS has agreed to verify through state records that all its pharmacists have the proper licenses within 90 days of the agreement's approval, and to perform similar records checks every six months for three years, the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS issued a statement confirming the agreement and said the two pharmacists were no longer employed with the company. CVS said there were no allegations any customers had been harmed.

"The agreement underscores that the health and safety of its customers is a top priority for CVS/pharmacy," the statement said.

The state already was investigating Morris "Mo" Skirvin, a pharmacist at a store in Nashville, when CVS informed officials that a pharmacist at one of its stores in Marion, Edward Certain, also had an expired license, the statement said.

"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. That trust was violated by these two individuals," said Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

"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."

Investigators said Skirvin's pharmacist license expired in 1990, before the drugstore that employed him was acquired by CVS, but he forged a new license each renewal period. Certain did not renew his license after it expired in 2002, state officials said.

The state alleged the two men together filled more than 60,000 prescriptions, and Medicaid was overbilled for fees to which they were not entitled.

Zoeller said the settlement was not a fine or an admission of wrongdoing by CVS. He said the money would be used to reimburse the Indiana Medicaid program and to pay investigative costs.

CVS said it entered into the agreement to avoid "the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of litigation."

As part of the agreement, CVS also must require pharmacist applicants to disclose any aliases and whether they are ineligible to hold a license, the state said.

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