Mississippi pharmacist sentenced to 10 years in $180M fraud scheme

A Mississippi pharmacist was sentenced to 10 years in prison over his role in an $180 million fraud scheme, the Justice Department said April 26.

Mitchell Barrett was a licensed pharmacist and co-owner of compounding pharmacies. He participated in a scheme to defraud Tricare by paying kickbacks to distributors for the referral of medically unnecessary prescriptions, prosecutors said. Mr. Barrett and his co-conspirators submitted $180 million in fraudulent billings to federal and private insurers as a result of the scheme.

According to court documents, Mr. Barrett modified prescription formulas to guarantee the highest reimbursement regardless of medical necessity. He hired recruiters to obtain prescriptions for compounded medications, paying them commissions based on the percentage of reimbursements paid by pharmacy benefit managers and healthcare benefit programs. 

Mr. Barrett also frequently waived and reduced copayments paid by beneficiaries and members. He used a purported copayment assistance program to make it seem as though his pharmacy and its affiliate compounding pharmacies had been receiving copayments, according to court documents. 

Mr. Barrett pleaded guilty to the scheme Aug. 25.

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