J. Pete Theodocion, Attorney at Law
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Pharmacists are new targets for federal drug charges

No longer focusing solely on the individual with a substance abuse problem, drug enforcement authorities are now turning their attention to those who supply the opioids. Doctors, pain management clinics and even the pharmaceutical companies themselves have recently faced civil lawsuits and criminal charges for their roles in the opioid crisis. Pharmacists have not escaped the wide net that the federal government has cast.

If you own or work in a Georgia pharmacy, chances are that you have dealt with a doctor or patient whose rate of narcotic prescriptions seemed unusually high. Perhaps you missed the signs, did not want to deal with the red tape or were simply too busy to investigate the situation properly. Unfortunately, if you lose track of how often these situations occur, you may end up holding a subpoena or facing an audit.

Red flags

If anyone understands the magnitude of the opioid crisis, it is you. While one of the positive elements of your job is helping relieve people's pain, if a local doctor comes under investigation for overprescribing, authorities may come to you as well. To protect yourself, you would be wise to keep careful records and examine them frequently for patterns such as:

  • An increased percentage of opioid or controlled substance prescriptions or refills
  • Opioid prescriptions going to several members of one household
  • Opioid prescriptions that you suspect other pharmacies refused to fill
  • A single patient receiving narcotic prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • A pain patient who changes doctors frequently
  • Patients who return for refills before their prescription should be finished
  • Patients who return for frequent refills of medications that typically have refill limits
  • A patient seeking a prescription for narcotics that could negatively react with other opioid prescriptions he or she already takes

Additionally, if you are the owner of the pharmacy, you will want safeguards in place to protect your stock from theft or loss. Your employees should also understand the risk of filling prescriptions that raise red flags or that may place your business in jeopardy.

In fact, at any time, you may be susceptible to an audit or investigation into the dissemination of opioids from your pharmacy. Discrepancies could lead to criminal charges that may carry prison sentences and fines for convictions. From the moment you suspect federal authorities have targeted your pharmacy, you would be wise to seek legal advice and representation.

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J. Pete Theodocion, Attorney at Law
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Augusta, GA 30901

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