Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United
States, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, young adults
abuse prescription drugs more than any other age group. “Young adults
(age 18 to 25) are the biggest abusers of prescription (RX) opioid pain
relievers, ADHD stimulants, and anti-anxiety drugs,” says the
NIDA. Young adults may abuse prescription medications the most, but adults of
all ages can be dangerously addicted.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice,
Drug Enforcement Association, “The abuse of prescription
drugs – especially controlled substances – is a serious social and
health problem in the United States today.” The DEA’s message
to pharmacists: “You have a legal responsibility to acquaint yourself
with the state and federal requirements for dispensing controlled substances.”
The DOJ also explains to pharmacists that they have a legal and ethical
responsibility to uphold the law and protect society from drug abuse.
With the above in mind, the DEA instructs pharmacists to: 1) know the prescriber,
2) know the prescriber’s signature, 3) know the patient, 4) check
the dates on prescription orders, and 5) whenever there’s a question,
call the prescriber. The DEA also tells pharmacists to find out which
drugs are popular on the streets and which drugs are being resold in their
area. So, how are prescriptions being forged by people?
- Patients are stealing their doctors’ prescription pads and writing
- Some patients are altering their doctor’s prescription to increase
dosage or number of pills dispensed.
- Some drug abusers will steal their doctor’s prescription pad and
have the callback number altered so the pharmacist reaches the patient
when they make queries.
- Some people will call in their own prescriptions to pharmacies.
Red Flags for Prescription Drug Fraud
Drug abusers are not above leaving tell-tale signs of fraud. Often, mistakes
are made and drug abusers are caught. Common red flags for prescription
drug fraud include a patient receiving a suspiciously large number of
prescriptions, the patient returns for refills too often, a prescription
that should have lasted 30 days is running out after a week or two or
even daily, the patient is picking up prescriptions for antagonistic drugs
(depressants and stimulants) at the same time, patient keeps trying to
pick up prescriptions for multiple people, or a number of strangers suddenly
show up to pick up prescriptions from the same physician – people
who do not live in the community.
Prescription Drug Abuse in America
According to the
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Misuse of prescription drugs means taking a medication
in a matter or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s
prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain;
or taking medication to feel euphoria.” According to the NIDA, the
most commonly abused prescription drugs include:
- Opioids, such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone,
- Stimulants, such as those prescribed to treat ADHD, and
- Central nervous system depressants, such as sedatives, hypnotics and tranquilizers.
Prescription Drug Offenses in Florida
Prescription drug crimes are criminalized under
Section 499.03 of the Florida Statutes. Under this section, you cannot legally possess
any prescription drug unless you obtained it through a valid prescription
from a licensed practitioner. Under Sec. 499.03(3), illegally possessing
a prescription drug is a
misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, or by a fine not to exceed $500, or both.
If you illegally
possess a prescription drug with the
intent to sell, dispense, or deliver the drug, you commit a
felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed
$5,000, or by a fine and imprisonment.
Patients who commit prescription drug fraud usually fell into the practice
to support their drug addictions. But these days, prescription drugs have
become BIG business and carry a high retail value on the streets. Like
other drug dealers, fraudsters will sell their prescriptions or try to
dupe their own doctors so they can resell their drugs and make a profit.
Sometimes, nurses, doctors, and the employees at doctors’ offices
engage in prescription drug fraud when they realize the potential for
high profit margins.
If you’re facing criminal charges for illegally possessing a prescription
drug or for trying to sell prescription drugs on the street,
contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. at once to set up a consultation with a
Tampa drug possession attorney. Let our former prosecutors defend you – call today!