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Prescription Misuse Charges Against USK Pharmacists And Doctors

The Prosecutor’s Office of the Una-Sana Canton (USK) accused pharmacists and doctors of illegally billing almost BAM 53,000 to the USK Health Insurance Fund for medicines that were never dispensed to the patients, as CIN reported earlier.

The Cantonal Court in Bihać confirmed the indictment of the USK Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office against Aida Alagić, the owner of a pharmacy from Bihać, and four other people for siphoning off money from the USK Health Insurance Fund (ZZO) through tempered prescriptions.

According to the indictment, in 2015, Alagić organized and managed an organized criminal group using the pharmacies she founded or those in which she had influence, namely,  Kovačević, Europharm, Mr. ph. Aida Alagić and Gradska apoteka Bihać, increased the quantity of drugs on prescriptions or billed the Fund for other, mostly more expensive drugs.

Refika Purić, a doctor at the Velika Kladuša Health Center, was accused of prescribing certain therapies to patients she never received, using blank prescription forms thus billing the pharmacies for the drugs that were never dispensed to patients.

In addition to these two, Zejna Harbaš from Bihać and Maida Mesić from Cazin, both MPharm, and Helma Boškailo, director of Gradska apoteka Bihać, were accused of business fraud and document forgery.

They are accused of enabling the pharmacies to gain illegal profit, as follows: Europharm – BAM 39,127, Kovačević – BAM 4,999, Mr. ph. Aida Alagić – BAM 4,252 and Gradska apoteka Bihać – BAM 4,380.

“The indictment is the result of an exhaustive investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office, during which almost 400 witnesses were heard, and more than 6,000 pieces of material evidence were proposed to the court,” said the USK Prosecutor.

The investigation was launched eight years ago after CIN revealed that some physicians and pharmacists have been siphoning off money from the USK Health insurance Fund using fake and tampered prescription orders.

Prescription Order for Corruption
Some doctors and pharmacist found a way to enrich themselves through fake and fraudulent prescription orders that are subsidized by Una Sana Health Care Fund.

CIN reporters revealed that Dr. Mehmed Hukić and Dr. Amir Cerić from Bihać issued 212 prescriptions to patients who were not aware of it.  The patients have never come for a check-up or to pick up medication.

In 2015, the Fund formed a commission to police how the prescriptions and medicines are being dispensed. The Commission randomly reviewed the work of physicians from Bihać Health Center during the first six months of that year. In this process between 100 and 200 medical files per doctor were reviewed.

The report analysis carried out by CIN reporters showed that the prescriptions issued by Dr. Hukić and Dr. Cerić were mostly dispensed through the Europharm and Kovačević pharmacies.

Aida Alagić told CIN that she did not accept the Commission’s findings because the agreement between the Fund and the pharmacies did not make provisions for such checks.

After the release of the story, these doctors were stripped of their authorization to prescribe medication for one month, however, Hukić and Cerić were not the subjects of the Prosecutor’s Office investigation that led to this indictment.

Also, according to the internal investigation of the health center in Cazin, Senad Selimović, a doctor in this health center, wrote about 600 prescriptions in one month, all of which were dispensed by a single pharmacy. He did it in April 2013, when he was officially on vacation.

“There were cases when a patient was prescribed as many as 18 packs of Lopril in a month,” said the then director of the Cazin Health Center Muris Halkić to CIN.

In an earlier interview with reporters, Selimović denied these accusations. He said that he kept blank prescriptions in his desk: “Someone must have had access to my stamp (…) someone else filled out those prescriptions.”

In late 2019, the USK Prosecutor’s Office suspended the investigation against Dr. Selimović due to a lack of evidence.

Doctors Sanctioned for Abuse of Prescription Orders
Una-Sana Health Care Fund revoked license for dispensing subsidized medicine from doctors Amir Cerić, Mehmed Hukić, Hajrudin Omerović and Refika Purić-Sarajlija.

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