Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in America for years, now. While there are some drugs that are targeted more than others, the sheer volume of prescription drugs that have been illegally obtained is estimated to be in the vein of tens of billions of dollars, every year. Most prescription drug fraud is done to fuel a drug addiction, though there are also many people who commit fraud in order to sell the drugs that they get.
But what is prescription drug fraud, exactly? And how does it work?
Prescription drugs are the drugs which you can't get on your own, because the government has set up safeguards against their abuse. This safeguard is the prescription, which has to be written by a doctor in their normal course of business.
Because people can get creative with how to get prescription drugs without getting the prescription first, the law doesn't state a bunch of ways to get them that are illegal: If it did, people would find another way, fast. Because of this, the law is vague, and makes it illegal to get prescription drugs using anything other than a prescription. If you get prescription drugs by doing something to get around the need for a doctor's prescription, then you've committed prescription drug fraud.
Because the law is vague, there's no one way to commit prescription fraud. Here are some of the many ways that have been determined to be illegal prescription fraud:
- Stealing prescription pads. When a doctor wants to write a prescription, he or she pulls out a pad of paper, a little larger than a Post-It Note, and writes down what they're prescribing. Stealing this pad of paper, also called a Prescription Pad, is prescription fraud, even if you don't actually use it to get prescription drugs. The act of having it without being a licensed professional allows you to write prescriptions, yourself.
- Forging or altering prescriptions. Going to a doctor, getting a prescription, but then changing the number or the kind of drug prescribed is prescription fraud. You can also be charged for prescription fraud if you wash the ink off a doctor's prescription, or print out and fill in your own prescription. This can lead to federal charges if you're exceptionally unlucky!
- Doctor or pharmacy shopping. Going to multiple doctors in order to get multiple prescriptions for your medical problem, or to find one that will write you a prescription after another doctor denied you, is prescription fraud. Similarly, if a pharmacy refuses to fill your prescription, going to another one that will is also prescription fraud.
- Buying from illegal sources. Buying prescription drugs from anyone, including a doctor, is prescription fraud.
The penalties for prescription fraud are steep, and include up to five years in prison. An experienced drug crimes defense attorney like William T. Bly can help immensely. After listening to the details of your case, William T. Bly can determine your best defense arguments, challenge the weakest parts of the prosecution's case, and work to exclude their strongest pieces of evidence. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146.