Prescription drug fraud can take many forms and affect a multitude of individuals from doctors to patients and organizations such as pharmacies and clinics.
Prescription Drug Fraud Explained
Prescription drugs are heavily regulated under state and federal laws. This includes how they’re manufactured, prescribed, dispensed, and administered. Common types of fraud involving prescribed medications can include:
- Forging a script on a stolen physician’s pad.
- Use of computers to create fake scripts.
- Altering the drug quantity on a physician’s prescribed medication.
- Misrepresenting yourself to a doctor or pharmacist.
- Doctor shopping.
- Obtaining prescribed drugs illegally through the Internet.
- Overcharging Medicare and Medicaid for medications.
- Selling drugs or marketing drugs for purposes other than those approved by the FDA.
- Prescribing drugs without a legitimate purpose.
Forging, Faking & Altering Prescriptions
Forging a scropt on stolen physician’s pads or creating fake doctor’s pads is a common type of drug fraud involving prescribed medications.
Altering legitimate prescriptions is often the first resort for individuals addicted to controlled drugs. An individual may alter the them by changing the type of drug, increasing the number of refills, increasing the quantity, or adding drugs.
Impersonating a Doctor or Pharmacist
Individuals often impersonate a doctor or pharmacist by calling in a prescription or refilling one for themselves and using their own phone number as a call back confirmation number.
Those who doctor shop often go to multiple doctors, emergency rooms, and pharmacies, and fake symptoms or gain sympathy to obtain prescriptions. Other tactics include claiming to be from out of town and to have forgotten to pack prescribed medications, or claiming to have lost the drugs from a legitimate prescription.
Most people don’t know that it is illegal in the United States to purchase prescribed drugs from online pharmacies.
Prescribing Drugs Without a Legitimate Purpose
A physician may face fraud charges for issuing a prescription that is either outside the usual or normal course of the doctor’s practice, or for an illegitimate medical reason. Physicians may face charges for over-prescribing drugs, improperly documenting patient histories, and accepting bribes from patients in exchange for prescribing medications.
Tracking down companies and individuals who are defrauding government agencies such as Medicare and Medicaid has become a high-profile priority for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Schemes against Medicare/Medicaid include paying Medicare beneficiaries for their personal identification numbers, which are used to file fraudulent claims for drugs that are never dispensed.
Pharmaceutical companies and their representatives are prohibited from promoting the use of FDA-approved drugs off-label as the Federal Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibits and criminalizes the misbranding of drugs. Off label marketing fraud occurs when a drug company or medical device manufacturer markets and promotes the use of an FDA-approved controlled substance (a prescription drug) or device for a purpose other than that for which FDA approval was obtained.
Types of Prescription Drugs Subject to Fraud
Overall, the most commonly misused prescription drugs fall within the class of controlled substances termed opioid pain relievers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The medications that police agencies most frequently report as commonly misused include:
- Vicodin® (hydrocodone)
- OxyContin® (oxycodone)
In addition, nonmedical use of prescription stimulants prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall® and Ritalin®, are increasingly common, particularly among college students.
Defending Against Prescription Drug Fraud Charges
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for a prescription drug crime, our team of former federal prosecutors and experienced criminal defense lawyers are prepared to do whatever it takes to win your case.
Penalties for Fraud Involving Prescribed Drugs
Fraud involving prescribed drugs is a criminal offense and penalties can be steep. In addition to criminal charges, civil actions may be brought against perpetrators of drug fraud as well.
Seek Legal Counsel Immediately
If you have been charged or are under investigation for prescription drug fraud, it is critical to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. We have a team of two former federal prosecutors and experienced legal counsel at your service. Your choice of a criminal defense lawyer is an important one. The outcome of your case could change the course of your entire life. At Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP, we are confident in our ability to obtain the best possible results for our clients. To schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys, call (888) 727-5154 or contact us online today. Ask for Lynette or Nick to get answers to your questions.