All individuals who distribute controlled substances, including doctors and pharmacists, are licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The handling and distribution of controlled substances by health care providers is highly regulated. In many instances, a violation of those regulations is a crime that warrants attention from a drug attorney.
Common Regulatory Violations
Licensed health care professionals can be prosecuted for (among other offenses):
- Distributing a controlled substance to an unauthorized person
- Removing required labels
- Failing to keep required records
The potential penalty for most regulatory offenses is a sentence of up to one year. The maximum penalty doubles for a second offense. Additional fines and costs can be imposed as well as a term of supervised release.
More serious penalties apply when a pharmacist fills a prescription, or a doctor or dentist writes a prescription, during a time when that person’s license is suspended or after the license is expired. Assuming the patient is entitled to the prescription, the health care provider will probably be prosecuted for a regulatory offense rather than illegal drug distribution, but the penalties for that offense (and for some other offenses involving deception) are more severe.
Those crimes carry a maximum sentence of four years. Again, the maximum penalty doubles for a second offense and additional penalties, including fines and supervised release, can be imposed.