09/14/2012 02:20 EDT | Updated 11/14/2012 05:12 EST

BC Health Worker Fired, 5th In Pharmacare Investigation

VICTORIA - A fifth British Columbia government employee has been fired in connection with an ongoing investigation that involves the abuse of drug research information.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the latest employee terminated was one of three who had already been suspended without pay.

Last week, four Health Ministry employees were fired after an internal investigation into alleged inappropriate relationships between university drug researchers and the ministry division that helps decide which drugs are covered by B.C.'s Pharmacare program.

The government launched an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip about contracting irregularities and inappropriate grant practices at the ministry's Pharmaceutical Services Division.

The government asked the RCMP to investigate after launching its own investigation earlier this year.

MacDiarmid says the findings were serious enough to prompt the ministry to delay approval of Pharmacare coverage for some drugs.