Qualified Attorneys for Health Care Professionals Denied by the DEA
If you’re like most medical professionals, you’ve already devoted many years of your life to cultivating a career. You spent time in medical school or studying dentistry. You worked hard to secure loans or raise capital for your practice, and you towed a narrow line for the sake of your reputation. And now it’s time to move ahead with your career.
But a DEA application delay or denial can stop your forward momentum in its tracks.
All health care professionals must register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (U.S. DEA) before they can dispense or prescribe controlled substances (e.g., most prescription medications) in the United States. And since it’s very difficult to maintain a medical practice without the ability to prescribe (or a pharmacy without the ability to dispense), a DEA application denial is a total roadblock to success.
Fortunately, the DEA is not permitted to simply deny applications without a good reason for doing so. Unfortunately, the process doesn’t always proceed smoothly.
Too many health care professionals encounter undue delay, unnecessary hardship, or wrongful denials of their DEA applications — and with seemingly little recourse available to them.
But you don’t have to accept DEA denials on the Administration’s terms or timelines. If the Administration has failed to timely process a legitimate application, or if it has withheld approval without an adequate basis, hiring an aggressive DEA defense lawyer might make all the difference.
The attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. are former federal prosecutors who represent the rights of doctors and other health care providers against governmental entities like the DEA.
Our office is here to help you navigate the many obstacles that might arise as you make you first application for DEA registration. You can count on us to fight for the approval status you deserve. Contact Oberheiden, P.C. today.
Can the DEA Deny an Application for Any Reason?
The DEA can only deny your DEA registration if it has sufficient grounds for doing so. Examples of grounds for denying a DEA application include:
- Falsifying information in your application for DEA registration
- Being excluded from participation in Medicare or Medicaid programs
- Being convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance
- Having your license revoked, suspended, or denied by a state licensing board
- Having voluntarily surrendered your registration in the past
- Engaging in behavior that endangers public safety or goes against the public interest
- If allowing you to practice would pose an imminent danger to public safety or would conflict with public interest
How Does the DEA Decide if Behavior Is Counter to Public Interest or Safety?
To determine whether approving your application meets “the public interest,” the DEA is permitted to consider:
- Whether you have complied with all applicable federal, state, and local laws
- Any previous convictions you might have (at either the state or federal level) relating to controlled substances
- Whether you are able to take effective measures against controlled substances being diverted into unlawful channels
- Any experience you might have with handling or distributing controlled substances
Additionally, the DEA is permitted to consider any other factors relevant to public safety. If the Administrator’s ultimate conclusion results in the denial of your application, you can still file an appeal in federal court.
When is a DEA Application Required?
DEA registration is required before any person can lawfully prescribe or dispense a controlled substance to patients within the United States. This includes:
- Nurse practitioners
- Anyone else planning to issue prescriptions for controlled substances or dispense said substances to the public
How Long Should the DEA Application Process Take?
The official website for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration offers the following timeline for DEA application approvals.
- New applications: processed within 4 to 6 weeks
- Applications for renewal: processed within 4 weeks
In practice, however, the actual timelines can take much longer. Many applicants experience delays that last multiple months, and have a very difficult time getting an adequate response from the DEA in the meantime.
Certainly, the agency should be afforded a reasonable amount of time for considering and processing new applications. But undue delays can have a severe impact on any business that provides health care to the public. Because of the severity of hardship that delays cause legitimate providers, the DEA should be held responsible for ensuring that there are no avoidable delays.
If you are experiencing an unfair setback in your DEA application process, an experienced attorney might be able to help. Please contact Oberheiden, P.C. as soon as possible.
What Can I Do if the DEA Denies My Application for DEA Registration?
DEA application denials generally involve three steps.
- An Order to Show Cause — a document that explains the reasons for denying your application and gives you the opportunity to explain why it should be approved instead.
- A Show Cause Hearing — held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), a Show Cause Hearing allows both sides to make arguments and present evidence. At the end, the ALJ makes a recommendation about whether the application should be denied, and this recommendation then goes to the DEA Administrator for a final decision.
- An Appeal — If the DEA Administrator’s final decision is not favorable, you can appeal the decision to a federal appellate court.
Note: you have 30 days in which to respond to the Order to Show Cause and to request a hearing. After 30 days, you will have waived your right to a hearing.
Our DEA Audit and Inspection Defense Attorneys
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is an accomplished attorney, author, and legal correspondent for numerous major media outlets. He is renowned as an authority on issues pertaining to federal health care law, including health care fraud, DEA applications and denials, and federal enforcement actions. He has successfully defended numerous individuals and corporate clients (including doctors and health care practices) against federal criminal charges and regulatory enforcement actions. Dr. Oberheiden holds a PhD in law, a Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law, and has been trained in negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Bill C. McMurrey is known to his clients as the attorney you call when losing simply is not an option. He is a former Department of Justice trial lawyer, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, the former Lead Prosecutor for Criminal Health Care Fraud, the former Health Care Fraud Coordinator for the North District of Texas at the United States Department of Justice, the former Assistant Attorney General with the Texas Attorney General Office in the Criminal Enforcement Division, and a former Briefing Attorney to Justice W.C. Davis. Bill’s primary practice areas are government investigations (including DEA registration denials), federal criminal defense, health care law, antitrust matters, whistleblower cases, and complex litigation.
Lynette S. Byrd defends individuals and corporate clients who stand accused of federal crimes or are under investigation by state / federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. Ms. Byrd is a former federal prosecutor, and she served for several years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. While representing the federal government, she worked on a number of a high-profile cases, including one of the largest health care fraud cases in her district, and collected millions of dollars for the government on behalf of taxpayers. Today, she puts her experience as a former prosecutor to work for health care providers and their organizations against enforcement actions brought on by the DEA and other federal entities.
Contact the Aggressive DEA Applications and Denials Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C.
If your application for a DEA Certificate of Registration has been unfairly delayed or denied, please contact the trusted attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. as quickly as possible.
We will work hard to negotiate with the DEA, take a stand for your rights, and respond effectively to any Order to Show Cause or hearing. Our goal is to get you the DEA registration you deserve so you can move forward with the career for which you’ve worked so hard.