World news wrapup: 20 September 2018


Pharmacist sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay $1.1 million for decade-long healthcare fraud scheme; Greek pharmacist shot “mafia-style” in broad daylight

Columbus, Ohio, US: A Columbus pharmacist convicted of stealing and reselling more than $1 million worth of prescription drugs has been sentenced in federal court to two years in prison.

Maria Mascio, 62, will also have to repay $1.1 million from a decade of fraudulent activity under the sentence handed down by US District Judge Michael H. Watson.

According to court records, Ms Mascio, a licensed pharmacist and owner, executed a healthcare fraud scheme for at least a decade (from 2003 through 2013).

Ms Mascio owned an office building in which her pharmacy and the medical offices of two doctors were located. She had directed pharmacy employees to remove prescription drug samples from the medical offices and place them in a storage room used by the pharmacy.

After collecting the drug samples, Ms Mascio or employees under her direction removed the sample drugs from their individualised packaging and placed them into the pharmacy inventory, where they were co-mingled with the pharmacy’s stocked drugs and dispensed to the general public.

Ms Mascio was found to have schemed to defraud Medicare, Ohio Medicaid, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and private insurers by billing for sample drugs that could not be legally sold and for medications that had not been dispensed.

“By misbranding the drugs, there was no method by which the drugs could be identified should there be a recall by the manufacturer, nor was there any way to determine the expiration date or whether the drugs remained effective,” said US Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman.

“This is clearly a danger to the community, and we will continue to identify and prosecute this sort of criminal behaviour.”

In May, Ms Mascio pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud scheme and one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.

 

Scotland: Half of GP surgeries in Scotland now have access to a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, the Scottish health secretary has said.

Speaking at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Congress in Glasgow, Jeane Freeman said there had been ‘significant investment’ in embedding pharmacy staff in general practice over the past three years, reports Pulse.

“We have now funded over 200 full-time equivalent pharmacists with advanced clinical skills, as well as 47 full-time equivalent technicians providing support to around half of our GP practices in Scotland,” said Ms Freeman.

This comes after the Scottish Government had reportedly committed to giving every GP practice access to a pharmacist with advanced clinical skills by 2021.

 

Athens, Greece: Police are looking for the killer of a 57-year-old pharmacist who was shot outside his home this month, reports ekathimerini.com.

The incident took place in the affluent Neo Psychiko suburb of Athens.

According to reports, the killer opened the door of the victim’s car as he was driving out of the garage and fired an unknown number of shots.

Police said the suspect most likely used a revolver.

According to the Greek Reporter, the murder occurred on a Saturday morning in broad daylight and the victim was shot seven times.

They described the murder as “mafia-style”.

 

Pennsylvania, US: A former Walmart pharmacist has been accused of fraudulently obtaining prescriptions for his own use.

Pennsylvania State Police say their investigation into the 65-year-old pharmacist began in December 2017 after Walmart contacted them about suspicious activity, reports CBS Pittsburgh.

A state police affidavit said the pharmacist had resigned from his position amidst an internal investigation of his activities.

That affidavit went on to say he had admitted writing up the prescriptions, saying they “were for his own use” but denying that he had a substance abuse problem.

During that time, the pharmacist allegedly fraudulently obtained more than 50 prescriptions for a variety of drugs, including Zolpidem, Alprazolam and Lorazepam. He also allegedly billed multiple insurance companies for the fraudulent prescriptions.

He is facing multiple charges, including professional prescription administration and dispensing, insurance fraud and forgery.

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