Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated William Cover was formerly employed by Walgreens. He is the current Manager of Pharmacy Affairs at Wallgreen Co.
Two watchdog organizations are filing an ethics complaint against the Indiana Board of Pharmacy.
Common Cause Indiana and Change to Win allege that the board provided Walgreens an unfair advantage when it approved the company’s new pharmacy pilot program.
The program aims to make pharmacists more available to customers by transferring some of their administrative work, such as filling prescriptions, to technicians. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also investigating the program after complaints about patient privacy and increased risk of improperly filled prescriptions.
And in Indiana, the State Board of Pharmacy President William Cover is the Manager of Pharmacy Affairs at Walgreen Company, which the groups say is a conflict of interest.
Common Cause Indiana Policy Director Julia Vaughn says the Board violated Indiana’s ethics law by not seeking the opinion of the Ethics Commission before approving the Walgreens program.
“When this change was made it did not jive with state law, which required the pharmacist actually being within range so they could visually supervise the technicians as they did their work,” Vaughn says, “After the new pharmacy model was approved, state law was changed to match up with this new model.”
Sue Swayze is a spokesperson for the state’s Professional Licensing Agency—which houses the Indiana Board of Pharmacy. She says the board president helped plan inspection visits of Walgreens, but recused himself from later talks and the final vote.
“The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency is turning this over to both the Indiana Inspector General and also the Indiana Ethics Commission for review, and we will assist in every way possible with the investigations,” Swayze says.
The Office of the Inspector General will review the complaint before choosing whether to investigate further.