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State: Pharmacy violations spark Medicaid rejection

The state has denied a Manhasset pharmacy’s participation as a Medicaid provider after inspectors found expired drugs, no running hot water and general unsanitary conditions, an official said Tuesday.

Mercaldo Apothecary Inc., doing business as Maclennan Pharmacy on Plandome Road in Manhasset, has been rejected as a Medicaid provider, according to state Medicaid Inspector General James Cox. A Mercaldo official countered that the company pulled its application after Medicaid officials put it through the wringer trying to obtain “more and more information.”

Cox said a recent inspection by Medicaid investigators found 38 expired drugs in the pharmacy’s inventory, including one that expired in 2006. They also found the facility had no running hot water — as required — and a clogged drain. The refrigerator was dirty, lacked an internal thermometer and was used to store food items — a prohibited practice.

 Further, inspectors said the store was so cluttered that wheelchair access wasn’t possible in all aisles, a violation of federal requirements. The inspection was part of the application process, a Cuomo administration official said.

 “The fact that this provider violated so many of Medicaid’s pharmacy standards has a direct bearing on their ability to provide quality medical services or supplies to Medicaid patients,” Cox said in a statement, “and they will be prohibited from doing so as long as they continue to disregard basic standards meant to protect Medicaid consumers from such practices.”

 Cox said Mercaldo was referred to the state Education Department’s Office of Professional Discipline.

 Anthony Mercaldo, a licensed pharmacist and vice president of the company, said he wasn’t aware of any issues regarding expired drugs and sanitary conditions. He said the pharmacy had decided to apply to the Medicaid program as a “favor to a few customers” but later backed out.

 “They kept coming back for more information and we kept providing them more and more information,” Mercaldo said of Medicaid officials. “At some point, we decided to stop the application.”

He the company decided the process wasn’t worth its handful of Medicaid customers. Anthony Mercaldo referred other questions about the inspection to Peter Mercaldo, his brother, a pharmacist who heads the company. He wasn’t immediately available.

 

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