Los Angeles Prescription Drug Lawyers

Prescription drug abuse and fraud has evolved into an issue of epidemic proportions in the United States.  Consequently, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are more aggressively pursuing criminal cases.  It is important that you consult with an experienced Prescription Drug Defense Lawyer.  Every drug case is different.  We will fight for your rights and make sure you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We will explore all of your defense options, including litigation or negotiation to reduce the charges and minimize the fallout. When feasible, we will help you secure treatment and diversionary programs as alternatives to traditional sentencing.

Prescription fraud occurs when people obtain medications by deception.  One method of deception is using forged prescriptions. This fraud and abuse come at an enormous cost to physicians, hospitals, insurers and taxpayers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15,000 people die each year from prescription medicine overdoses.

There are many different types of prescription drug fraud. Any time a person deceives a doctor or pharmacist in order to obtain drugs, he could be charged with prescription drug fraud. There are some common methods people use when attempting to defraud a doctor, pharmacist or other provider:

  • Altering a prescription given and signed by a doctor.
  • Physician Shopping
  • Obtaining a prescription and lawfully selling those drugs to another person for profit

What are the Penalties for Prescription Drug Fraud under HS 11173 and 11153?

Health and Safety § 11350

California Health and Safety Code §11350 prohibits the possession of any usable amount of a controlled substance. This can include illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine, or prescription drugs such as Vicodin, that are not lawfully prescribed. Proposition 47, which was a ballot initiative that passed in November 2014, downgrades certain drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Those who qualify can be sentenced to up to a year in prison for a misdemeanor charge, though many may avoid jail time altogether if they are eligible for and successfully complete a drug diversion program.

For those who do not qualify under proposition 47, they will be charged and sentenced depending on the amount of the drug and prior convictions.

Health and Safety Code § 11173

(a) No person shall obtain or attempt to obtain controlled substances, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of or prescription for controlled substances, (1) by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge; or (2) by the concealment of a material fact.

(b) No person shall make a false statement in any prescription, order, report, or record, required by this division.

(c) No person shall, for the purpose of obtaining controlled substances, falsely assume the title of, or represent himself to be, a manufacturer, wholesaler, pharmacist, physician, dentist, veterinarian, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, or other authorized person.

(d) No person shall affix any false or forged label to a package or receptacle containing controlled substances.

Health and Safety Code § 11153

(a)  A prescription for a controlled substance shall only be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his or her professional practice. The responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription. Except as authorized by this division, the following are not legal prescriptions: (1) an order purporting to be a prescription which is issued not in the usual course of professional treatment or in legitimate and authorized research; or (2) an order for an addict or habitual user of controlled substances, which is issued not in the course of professional treatment or as part of an authorized narcotic treatment program, for the purpose of providing the user with controlled substances, sufficient to keep him or her comfortable by maintaining customary use.

(b)  Any person who knowingly violates this section shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(c)  No provision of the amendments to this section enacted during the second year of the 1981–82 Regular Session shall be construed as expanding the scope of practice of a pharmacist.

The cycle often begins when a patient get hooked on opioids after receiving a legitimate prescription following an injury or surgery.  That same patient may try to obtain more prescriptions for the medication often turning to unscrupulous doctors or medical clinics. Our lawyers have handled prescription drug offenses ranging from over abuse, illegal possession, unlawful sales and transportation.

The DEA (https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov) and California Department of Justice (https://oag.ca.gov) are two primary agencies charged with policing the issuance and dispensing of controlled substances, including prescription drugs.  Regulations apply to manufacturers, dispensers, and distributors of controlled substances. Our Los Angeles Prescription Drug Lawyers have seen an increase in both State and Federal Prosecutions of prescription drug related offenses.  It is important that you understand your rights and protect your future.

California Health & Safety Code Section 11165(d)

(d) For each prescription for a Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substance, as defined in the controlled substances schedules in federal law and regulations, specifically Sections 1308.12, 1308.13, and 1308.14, respectively, of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the dispensing pharmacy, clinic, or other dispenser shall report the following information to the Department of Justice as soon as reasonably possible, but not more than seven days after the date a controlled substance is dispensed, in a format specified by the Department of Justice:

(1) Full name, address, and, if available, telephone number of the ultimate user or research subject, or contact information as determined by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the gender, and date of birth of the ultimate user.

(2) The prescriber’s category of licensure, license number, national provider identifier (NPI) number, if applicable, the federal controlled substance registration number, and the state medical license number of any prescriber using the federal controlled substance registration number of a government-exempt facility.

(3) Pharmacy prescription number, license number, NPI number, and federal controlled substance registration number.

(4) National Drug Code (NDC) number of the controlled substance dispensed.

(5) Quantity of the controlled substance dispensed.

(6) International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 9th revision (ICD-9) or 10th revision (ICD-10) Code, if available.

(7) Number of refills ordered.

(8) Whether the drug was dispensed as a refill of a prescription or as a first-time request.

(9) Date of origin of the prescription.

(10) Date of dispensing of the prescription.

If you currently under investigation or have been arrested for unlawful possession or the unlawful sale or distribution of prescription drugs, it is important that you contact a Los Angeles Prescription Drug Lawyer to protect your rights.

How does Prescription Drug Fraud Affect Medical Doctors?

Licensed Medical Professionals

If you are a medical professional, pharmacist or other licensed professional, it is important that you protect your license and career and secure an experienced Prescription Drug Defense Lawyer.  You may also need a lawyer that specializes in professional licensing defense.  Physicians must be registered with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances.  There must be a legitimate medical purpose for prescribing and there are limits on the number of refills for certain classes of addictive substances.

Criminal investigations can be triggered for various reasons.  Insurance providers have the ability to conduct full audits of a doctor’s records and investigate prescribing irregularities, such as prescribing several powerful medicines to the same patient – a potentially deadly combination.  Insurance providers can then file a complaint with regulatory agencies which may trigger an investigation by the DEA.  The DEA can then refer the matter to a state or federal prosecutor.   This is why contacting a prescription drug fraud lawyer at the earliest state is so critical.

Californias Drug Monitoring Program

California has taken a lead in the fight against prescription drug abuse and fraud.  CURES 2.0 (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) is a database of Schedule II, III and IV controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in California serving law enforcement, the public health and regulatory oversight agencies.  California is committed to the reduction of prescription drug abuse and diversion without affecting legitimate medical practice or patient care.

Our Los Angeles Prescription Drug Lawyers are prepared to assist you and will move quickly to put a strategy in place.  We have represented medical doctors charged with unlawfully prescribing medication as well as Conspiring to Acquire Controlled Substances by Fraud.

If you are suffering from addiction to prescription drug medication, seeking professional help may save your life and also assist you in saving your license and career.  A licensed rehabilitation counselor or specialist can assist you in locating the most appropriate facility.

We have more than 65 years of experience handling drug cases prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, State of California Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s office.

Recent Examples of Doctors arrested for Prescription Drug Fraud:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/oc-doctor-who-illegally-prescribed-addictive-pain-medications-often-meeting-patients

https://cslea.com/2017/08/twelve-people-arrested-in-prescription-drug-to-black-market-ring/

https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/part-national-healthcare-fraud-sweep-los-angeles-based-prosecutors-filed-16-cases

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2018/03/13/doctor-allegedly-prescribed-opioids-dead-and-incarcerated-people-pill

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/sd-me-heath-care-fraud-20180629-story.html

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2017/11/08/michigan-physician-sentenced-federal-prison-writing-fraudulent

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2018/06/03/north-tonawanda-pharmacist-arrested-charged-prescription-fraud

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2017/08/02/staten-island-woman-sentenced-12-years-imprisonment-illegal-distribution

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-drugs18-2008may18-story.html