One of the common mistakes people make is assuming that because they have
a prescription for a drug, it is not considered illegal. Any medical substance,
whether over the counter or prescribed, can be an illegal and controlled
substance if it is being abused by someone else. While there is no doubt
some controlled substances can be helpful for those in medical need, abuse
of these drugs can lead to serious illness, addiction, or death.
Types & Penalties for Prescription Drug Fraud
Someone that is accessing prescription drugs without a legitimate prescription
is said to be committing prescription fraud. There are two main ways this
can happen: doctor shopping or by doctors providing false prescriptions.
What is doctor shopping?
Doctor shopping is what happens when someone uses multiple doctors and
pharmacies to get prescriptions ordered and filled. This is done without
these medical professionals knowing that the others are providing the
same service. This is done in order to obtain a surplus of prescription
drugs for use or sale.
Some of the common drugs that are sought out include:
- Opiates, like morphine or oxycodone
- Depressants, which are Xanax, Ambien, or valium
- Stimulants, such as Adderall or Ritalin
In order to be charged with doctor shopping, it must be proven that there
was an element of fraud involved. Fraud occurs when there was a misrepresentation
of fact to conceal information. If it can be shown that someone intentionally
misrepresented facts to doctors and pharmacies with the purpose of obtaining
additional medication, they can be accused of doctor shopping.
What about doctors prescribing pills?
Doctors are responsible for acting in the best interest of their patient,
which means recognizing the signs of prescription pill addiction. If a
doctor chooses to provide prescriptions to someone knowing that they may
be addicted or that they will distribute those pills to other people,
they can be charged with prescription fraud.
Penalties for Prescription Fraud
Accusations of doctor shopping or prescription fraud faces serious criminal
Depending on the details of the case, possible consequences include:
- Up to three years in jail
- Up to $20,000 fine
Those that may be addicted to prescription painkillers as the cause of
their prescription fraud may have additional rehabilitation-oriented penalties
imposed as well.