Pharmacist Caught Billing Lovaza But Dispensing Fish Oil Capsules

An Oregon pharmacist who dispensed OTC or generic drugs but billed Medicare and Medicaid for more expensive brand-name medications has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

An Oregon pharmacist who dispensed OTC or generic drugs but billed Medicare and Medicaid for more expensive brand-name medications has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

In addition to prison time, Hung Viet Tran of Tran Pharmacy in Portland was required to pay back $825,000 to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to a press release from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Rosenblum announced on March 8, 2016, that Tran pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of health care fraud.

“We rely on our pharmacies and trust our pharmacists to provide the prescription drugs we need and to act honestly in doing so,” Rosenblum said in a press release. “Oregon Department of Justice’s Medicaid fraud unit will continue to diligently prosecute health care providers who commit fraud against Oregonians.”

The fraud took place over a 4-year timespan. One of Tran’s schemes was to bill for a prescription drug like Lovaza but actually dispense a $0.24 fish oil capsule from Costco. In return, Medicare would reimburse Tran at $1.64 per capsule.

The investigation into Tran found that he bought around 70,000 Costco fish oil capsules over 4 years.

The Oregon Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Unit, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Investigations, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, and the Portland Police Bureau helped assist in or conduct the investigation.

“Patients and taxpayers expect investigation and prosecution of criminals such as Mr. Tran,” said Steven J. Ryan, special agent in charge of the HHS Office of Inspector General, in a press release. “We continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our state law enforcement partners to optimize every Medicaid and Medicare dollar.”