NAPLES — Sunshine Pharmacy owner Del Parrish voluntarily gave up his license to fill prescriptions for certain controlled substances as federal authorities continue a probe of potential Medicare fraud, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials say.
Agency spokeswoman Mia Ro in Miami said Parrish relinquished his DEA registration Thursday to fill prescriptions for controlled substances in four classifications, which include pain medications, stimulants, cough medications and steroids.
Officials with DEA and U.S. Health and Human Services on Jan. 17 confiscated documents and computers from Sunshine Solutions and Pharmacy at 5480 Rattlesnake-Hammock Road in East Naples.
Parrish, 43, and his mother, Patricia Parrish, 73, are under investigation to determine if they engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare Part D by submitting claims to Medicare after the death of beneficiaries, according to an Oct. 17 letter that HHS sent to Medicare Part D providers. In addition, they may have submitted false claims to Medicaid and Tricare, the insurance for military members, the letter said.
Federal authorities followed up this past Thursday and confiscated records at Sunshine Pharmacy locations at 6350 Davis Blvd. and 421 U.S. 41 N., NBC-2 reported.
"This is an ongoing investigation," DEA's Ro said Friday, adding that the Collier County Sheriff's Office and Naples Police Department are assisting.
The Rattlesnake-Hammock pharmacy has been closed since last week but the Davis Boulevard and U.S. 41 stores were open Friday. Store employees declined to comment about the DEA action.
The inability to fill prescriptions for controlled substances creates a hardship for a pharmacy to stay open, even if they are a small part of the total prescription business, said Matthew Cammuso, a pharmacist with Wooley's, an independent pharmacy at 3761 East U.S. 41 since 1992.
"It becomes extremely difficult to survive, simply because a percentage of your prescriptions, 10 or 15 percent, or maybe as low as 5 percent, are for controlled substances," Cammuso said. "Usually they are accompanied by other non-controlled prescriptions. Someone (a customer) is going to go to one stop."
Cammuso said Wooley's welcomes any Sunshine customers who want to transfer prescriptions to his pharmacy. They can bring in an empty vial and the pharmacy can call their doctor, or the customer can call their doctor for a new prescription, Cammuso said.
According to state Department of Health records, Parrish's license as a pharmacist remains active and clear.