Michigan Attorney General Warns 3 Pharmacies Of COVID Test-Related Price Scams

Michigan Attorney General Warns 3 Pharmacies Of COVID Test-Related Price Scams

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. – The Michigan Attorney General has issued a warning on the matter price contraction pharmacies that charged $ 50 and $ 80 for COVID home tests that currently retail for under $ 20, he said.

“We will not support companies exploiting this current wave of COVID-19 cases for monetary gain,” Attorney General Dana Nessel he said.

According to the AG’s office, an expected action notice has been issued at Value Center Pharmacy II in Madison Heights, Skip’s Pharmacy in the Netherlands, and Birch Run Drugs.

Officials said they had received complaints from residents that the home COVID test kits were very expensive. Value Center Pharmacy II and Skip’s Pharmacy tried to justify the prices they were charging with invoices showing how much they paid to purchase the kits from Birch Run Drugs, according to Nessel.

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“This office has evidence that Value Center Pharmacy was charging $ 50 per kit for the iHealth kit in December 2021 and that Skip’s Pharmacy was charging $ 80 per kit for the same product in early January 2022,” the NIA revealed. “We compared these prices with both those offered online and those charged by other Michigan pharmacies. The information we have gathered provides probable reasons to believe that Value Center Pharmacy and Skip’s Pharmacy were charging consumer prices for the iHealth kit grossly in excess of the price at which this kit was being sold by other retailers.

An iHealth COVID-19 rapid antigen test package with two tests currently sells online for $ 17.98. It has been selling for up to $ 19.98 in the past month, officials said.

NIA officials said it’s not surprising that kits cost more in physical locations, but prices at these pharmacies appear to have been “artificially high,” the survey found.

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Murali Ginjupalli owns Value Center Pharmacy II and Skip’s Pharmacy, and also has a connection with Birch Run Drugs, according to authorities. This relationship was discovered during the investigation.

“Compounding the concerns in this office is the resistance we have encountered in trying to gather information about the prices offered at the Value Center and Skip’s pharmacy for iHealth testing,” the NIA reported. “We understand these stores are jointly owned and when we finally got some information we were requesting, it was in the form of invoices showing that Value Center and Skip’s Pharmacy bought the kits from Birch Run Drugs.

“A commercial search by Birch Run Drugs on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website shows (Ginjupalli is) that entity’s resident agent as well. Therefore, it appears that an effort has been made to justify the pricing charged by Value Center and Skip’s Pharmacy through invoices that do not reflect market conditions. “

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Pharmacies have been asked to explore a voluntary insurance arrangement to avoid further legal action, Nessel said. They have until February 13 to respond and have also been asked to provide further documentation.

“So far our attempts to look into consumer complaints have encountered unnecessary obstacles, so I hope this can be resolved without the need to take further action against these pharmacies,” said Nessel.

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