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Prescription Fraud: An Overview

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 consequences.

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.