Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Explains the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Role In Disciplining Healthcare Professionals

The Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) is the agency dedicated to enforcing the federal drug laws in the United States. Most people associate the DEA with investigating illicit narcotic distribution. Healthcare professionals with the privilege of writing and dispensing prescriptions know that the DEA has wider jurisdiction than simply investigating street crimes. Any healthcare professional who writes prescriptions, drug distribution centers, pharmacies, and others must register with the DEA before they can write or fill a prescription. The DEA has the authority to investigate and discipline healthcare professionals who violate DEA regulations relating to dispensing prescription drugs. The DEA does not have unlimited power. A practitioner enjoys many due process protections when facing allegations of wrongdoing by the DEA. Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger fights for professional licensees facing disciplinary action.

A licensee’s rights to a fair and impartial hearing when facing disciplinary action instituted by the DEA is protected by the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), a law passed by Congress delineating the procedures that must be followed in administrative hearings, also serves to protect the rights of a licensee facing discipline.  Due Process Clause jurisprudence and the APA work in conjunction with each other to ensure disciplinary proceedings are decided justly. Federal laws and rules control in DEA disciplinary action because the DEA is a federal, vis-a-vis, state agency.

The Due Process Clause and APA are not idle theories.  A licensee enjoys the protections those laws afford from the inception of disciplinary action. The agency instituting disciplinary proceedings may commence an action only after it gives the licensee proper notice of the factual allegations of wrongdoing.  Proper notice serves to give the licensee an opportunity to challenge the factual allegations and legal basis for discipline.  The factual allegations and legal basis must be timely given to the licensee. The notice, called pleadings, do not have the same rigorous formality of pleadings in a criminal case. Therefore, if a factual allegation arises after the agency initiated disciplinary proceedings, the law permits the agency to rely on such allegations so long as the licensee has a chance to respond timely and fairly to them.

Timely notice of the factual allegations serves a very important purpose. The timely notice of the allegations provides licensees with an opportunity to investigate the claims the Agency made and to prepare a defense. The licensee must be afforded every opportunity to offer an explanation of the allegations. A licensee’s defense is thwarted if they do not have a chance to explain what happened from their perspective.

Litigants must be careful not to waive any objections to late-disclosed factual allegations. A failure by the licensee to object to newly raised allegations indicates that they consent to litigate the new claims of wrongdoing.  The agency has an obligation in the initial pleadings and the pre-hearing statement to set forth all of the factual allegations it will rely on to convince the factfinder that the licensee must be disciplined. The licensee may consent to litigate the unpleaded issue if it is clear from the record that the licensee knew of the allegation and defended against it.  However, an agency’s decision to discipline a licensee may not be based upon evidence of wrongdoing that was incidental to the initial allegations.

Allegations Of Wrongdoing Can Destroy Your Livelihood

Revocation of your DEA registration, or any professional licensing discipline, will wreak havoc on your professional life and has the potential to do the same to your personal life as well. Do not trust your defense to anyone. Call Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation if you are a licensed professional facing discipline.