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Prescription smoke and mirrors

By KRIS HUNDLEY
Published October 6, 2003

Processing millions of prescriptions might not sound like exciting work, but according to government lawyers, it involves "slut pans," "cherry picking" and WHIZMOs.

Those are a few samples of insider jargon cited in a lawsuit filed last week against Medco Health Solutions Inc. by the U.S. Attorney's office in Philadelphia.

The government accused Medco, which has three facilities in Tampa, of destroying prescriptions, shorting orders and switching drugs without physician approval. The Franklin Lakes, N.J., company has denied all charges.

Among the allegations are that Medco pharmacists, working under a stringent quota system, filled the easiest prescriptions first in a practice known as "cherry picking."

Troublesome scripts that required more analysis were dumped in the "slut pan."

And WHIZMOs - "where's my order?" calls from patients - were to be avoided at all costs. But still, WHIZMOs came, with more than 400 recorded at the Medco facility in Sabal Park in December 2000.

The government's lawsuit says that when insurers that used Medco came through the Sabal Park facility, prescriptions that hadn't been filled in the contractual turnaround time were scooped into purple pans and tucked into a semitrailer parked behind the facility.

Nothing like cleaning up the place for guests.

[Last modified October 6, 2003, 01:49:36]

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