Lloyds pharmacies may face a 'garda probe'
Lloyds, the country's biggest pharmacy chain, may be reported to the garda fraud squad and its regulator following an investigation which forced it to pay a €12m settlement to the HSE.
Health Minister Simon Harris told the Dáil last night that the HSE, which has sought advice from gardaí and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, will "make any appropriate referrals required concerning investigations.
"Lloyds has also had HSE payments for the phased dispensing scheme suspended until compliance with the rules is fully established," he added.
He was responding to a Fianna Fáil private members motion arising out of the settlement following a probe into the way it used the scheme involving dispensing fees for elderly medical card holders to boost its income.
Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said it was "incumbent on the HSE to ensure that it is carrying out proper checks and balances when dealing with taxpayers' money".
The motion asked that strong procedures be put in place to restore confidence in the system.
It was "absolutely unbelievable" that it took the media to discover the extent of the charging irregularities by Lloyds and not the HSE's internal controls.
Accepting the motion, Mr Harris told the Dáil that Lloyds entered into settlement talks after it faced disciplinary action which could see it lose its lucrative contract with the HSE to dispense medicines to medical card holders. He insisted a HSE data review in 2014 first raised concerns about the way Lloyds was operating the MyMed scheme. It was completed in mid-2015 and disciplinary proceedings were being prepared.
"I agree it is a most serious matter. Some €20m will be recovered in probity checks across the GMS scheme this year," he said.
Other pharmacies were now being probed for "claiming issues", the minister said.