Attorney and Author George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 25, 2024, a pharmacy in Celebration, Florida, alleged HHS abruptly terminated it from a federal program that provides free access to preexposure prophylaxis HIV-prevention (PrEP) medication. Turner Brothers Inc., which does business as Turner Drugs, filed a motion in its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.  In the motion, Turner Drugs asked a D.C. federal judge to force the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and two contractors to reinstate it to the program. To view the motion, click here.
The pharmacy says it is owed $3.1 million for nearly 1,500 already-approved prescriptions, but the payments have been withheld following its termination. The lawsuit accuses HHS, Mercalis Inc., and Pharmacy Data Management Inc. (PDMI) of breaching a contractual obligation to give participating pharmacies 40 days to fix any alleged breach before terminating them.  Additionally, the suit contends the allegedly overdue payments constitute a breach of contract.
The “Ready, Set, PrEP” Program. 
Turner Drugs, in Celebration, Florida, is a pharmacy providing services to underprivileged patients that need access to free medications, including HIV medication.  Turner Drugs was contracted with a Florida nonprofit, Advanced Health Access Inc., and Continuous Care LLC to operate free medical clinics.  The pharmacy alleges in the motion that it was suddenly terminated from the “Ready, Set, PrEP” program on March 12, 2024. The national program provides people without prescription drug coverage access to HIV-prevention medication as part of an HHS initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the United States.
Details of the Lawsuit.
Even though Turner Drugs claims it has diligently complied with its contractual terms, on March 12, 2024, it was suddenly terminated from the program without warning or written notification. The pharmacy claims it first learned of the termination because its requests for PrEP prescription approvals were denied based on their “nonparticipation” in the program, much to its surprise!
The pharmacy later learned from an attorney at PDMI that it had been “blocked due to suspicious activity” and would be audited at a later date. The alleged suspicious activity was possibly due to Turner Drugs being acquired by Advancing Health as its in-house pharmacy.  The pharmacy said this resulted in an uptick in Ready, Set, PrEP prescriptions.
“Turner Drugs [claims it] attempted to negotiate an amicable resolution by responding to an audit of prescriptions in only one day, offering to make all its records and procedures available to defendants for inspection, and to cooperate with defendants in any other manner they might request,” the complaint states. When the defendants made no attempt to explain the alleged “suspicious activities” and no resolution could be reached, Turner Drugs claims it had “little choice but to prepare” the lawsuit and the motion and file them.
To view the complaint in this case, click here.
For more information on the “ready, Set, prEP” program, click here. 
Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm routinely provide legal representation to pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, medical clinics, and other health providers who have received complaints against their licenses, notices of investigations, Medicare or Medicaid audits, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) audits, investigations, subpoenas, search warrants, and orders to show cause (OSC) or who are facing formal or informal administrative hearings.
The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in complex healthcare litigation in both state court and federal court, and in both formal and informal administrative hearings, and represent pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy, Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at
Florida Health. “PrEP/PEP Program.” The Florida Department of Health. (August 15, 2024).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Ready, Set, PrEP: Find Out If You Qualify to Enroll for Free PrEP Medications.”
About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.
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