Prescription Drug War Can Take Down Unwary Pharmacists

As a pharmacist, you are probably well aware that prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Unlike illegal drugs where most battles are fought on neighborhood streets and involve gangs, the prescription drug war is happening in physician’s offices and pharmacies across the country. In late 2012, a story broke about four young men who died as the result of a drug overdose of prescription medication. The remarkable link connecting the deaths was that all four people had prescriptions written by the same doctor and filled at the same small pharmacy. As a result of his actions, the pharmacist involved had his license revoked. It appears from the investigation that the pharmacist was knowingly filling fraudulent prescriptions and dispensing painkillers and other addictive medications he knew or should have known were feeding the habits of addicts. Although the situation does not describe the overwhelming majority of pharmacists, it does serve as a stark reminder of the growing problem. Pharmacists cannot turn a blind eye to this problem. In order to protect their licenses, pharmacists must become aware of how they can prevent further abuse of the system.

Pharmacists, much like other health care professionals, work long hours. In a typical day a single pharmacy may fill hundreds of prescriptions. Part of a pharmacist’s job is to make the determination as to whether she should fill a particular prescription. The law requires a pharmacist not to fill any prescription if they have reason to believe that either the prescribed medication is unnecessary or the amount prescribed is not legitimate. A pharmacist has a duty to refuse to fill any patient’s prescription that the pharmacist believes is being used by the patient to feed an addiction. Pharmacists also have to be on the look-out for fraudulent prescriptions, signs of which may include exceedingly high doses or an unrecognizable doctor’s signature. For example, one of the young men in the story above received such a high dosage of painkiller that, according to the DEA investigator, could have put down a horse.

Pharmacists who fail to comply with these standards can find themselves in a sea of legal trouble. Failing to check the legitimacy of prescriptions and/or filling a prescription that is believed to be medically unnecessary could result in an investigation by the Board of Pharmacy and lead to revocation of pharmacist’s license. Additionally, a pharmacist could also face civil and criminal charges. It is important for pharmacists to be aware that did not need to intend to provide an addict with prescription drugs. By simply overlooking her duties, a pharmacist can face serious disciplinary actions.

Pharmacists can avoid problems by carefully reviewing each prescription. The following types of prescriptions should draw red flags:

  • unusually high doses of painkillers and/or other addictive medications;
  • patients who do not reside in the area or live out-of-state;
  • a single doctor that writes a large volume of prescriptions for painkillers and/or other addictive medications;
  • prescriptions written by doctors that do not practice in the area; and
  • patients with prescriptions for expensive painkillers and/or other addictive medications who pay in cash

If you are pharmacist who is undergoing an investigation by board, you need an aggressive and experienced professional license defense attorney on your side. The Sanger Law Office has been providing clients in Kansas and Missouri with quality legal representation. Contact the office today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free confidential consultation. You can trust the Sanger Law Office to protect your license.