A whistleblower lawsuit against Caremark ( CMX) keeps hitting some odd notes. Two whistleblowers are seeking to block the Florida attorney general from intervening in their case. Normally, whistleblowers invite government assistance. But new court filings, including sworn statements made public for the first time, show a clear lack of harmony between the two parties. Essentially, Caremark pharmacists Michael and Peppi Fowler claim that conflicted Florida officials are more interested in protecting Caremark, a Nashville, Tenn., pharmacy benefit manager that has a big contract with the state, than in prosecuting what they call serious wrongdoing. The Fowlers also accuse Caremark leaders of engaging in the very activities, such as improperly obtaining drugs and violating privacy laws, that have called their own character into question. The Fowlers came under fire this year after filing a whistleblower lawsuit that accuses the company of defrauding and endangering Florida customers by, among other things, selling them drugs that were returned through the mail but never tested for potential damage. Chicago lawyer Mike Leonard, who is representing the whistleblowers, has pegged potential damages to Florida customers alone at more than $100 million. A judge is set to determine next week whether the whistleblowers or the Florida attorney general deserves control of the high-stakes case. Caremark is betting on the latter. "We believe the overwhelming weight of evidence against these plaintiffs and their scandalous, meritless accusations will lay this issue to rest," says Caremark spokesman Gerard Carney. "We support the state's intervention." On Friday, Caremark dropped 14 cents to $31.12.
The plaintiffs have submitted new testimony from a number of Caremark insiders for the court to review. Statements by former staffers portray Caremark as a company that has routinely placed profits ahead of patient safety by improperly changing or canceling prescriptions in order to collect bonuses for saving Florida money. The sworn statements also include claims that Caremark illegally sold returned drugs and then sought ways to cover its tracks.