A Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation law firm has been operating a pharmacy since October of 2016, as reported in a recent article by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. The article describes the firm as “the biggest player in town for Workers’ Compensation cases,” and the sponsor of regularly TV and billboard advertising.
A Network of Doctors
Injured workers who employ the firm to file claims for Workers’ Compensation are sent to a network of preferred doctors. Those doctors are in turn asked to use a preferred pharmacy called “Workers First.” Investigations by the Inquirer and Daily News revealed that the pharmacy is owned by three of the law firm’s partners plus their chief financial officer. Several doctors are also part owners, although to open the pharmacy, the application needed a signed affidavit that “no medical practitioners had a proprietary interest” in the business.
One of the partners defends the pharmacy as an “add-on service” that was started in order to provide medicines to clients quickly. However, records show that the pharmacy is charging sky high prices for some of the medications it dispenses. Those prices are paid by Workers’ Compensation insurance, and the lawyers and doctors who own Workers First reap additional profits when their clients leave the office and fill their prescriptions at the pharmacy.
Sky High Prescription Prices
The investigation by the Inquirer and Daily News found that the pharmacy charged more than $1,600 for a five-ounce bottle of diclofenac, a topical anti-inflammatory solution that should cost between $60 and $70. Their price for a six-ounce tube of five percent lidocaine ointment was $1,900. Online, a one-ounce tube is available for $14.
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system, medical bills for workers injured on the job are generally covered by employers or employers’ Workers’ Compensation insurance providers. When insurance companies pay over-inflated prices for medications for workers it drives costs up not just for the companies themselves, but for everyone, including the employees receiving treatment.
“An Untapped Font”
A representative for employers and insurance firms that pay medical bills for injured workers says there has been an increase in prescriptions for compounded creams that do not necessarily work. For doctor/lawyer owners of pharmacies, Workers’ Compensation is “an untapped font” of profit and some injured workers receive prescriptions for several drugs during their first visit, even if not all of them are necessary. Expensive compounded creams have been the focus of several recent high-profile criminal cases including a New Jersey conspiracy case of $28 million in prescription drug fraud. Records show charges of at least $4,300 by Workers First pharmacy for a compounded pain cream. A statement from the pharmacy said that they were comfortable with receiving profits rather than the money going to big pharma.
Delaware County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Injured Workers
At McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, we are dedicated to helping injured workers receive the compensation they need to recover and get their lives back on track. Our team of Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers can provide you with experienced legal representation to ensure the most favorable outcome possible for your claim. An initial consultation is free and confidential so call us today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online. We have convenient locations in Philadelphia, Media and Abington, PA as well as Wilmington, DE and Haddonfield, NJ to serve you.