What is Prescription Drug Fraud?
Even though prescription drugs are designed to help people who suffer from illnesses, some have to potential to become very addictive. Prescription drug addiction can start out harmless, a person taking pain killers for a sore back for example. Once the habit is formed, however, it can grow out of control.
In order to make sure citizens do not abuse prescription drugs, lawmakers have many rules that doctors and pharmacies must abide by when handing out prescription medication. When a person attempts to circumvent these rules, this is referred to as prescription drug fraud. There are many ways that people try to obtain large quantities of drugs for personal abuse or to distribute. Some of the most common include:
Stealing Prescription Pads: Medical employees or others who have access to doctors' prescription pads take the blank pads and write fraudulent prescriptions in order to get access to pills.
Duplicate Prescriptions: A person who is given a valid prescription for a drug creates multiples copies of it and fills the same prescription at multiple pharmacies.
Doctor Shopping: A person visits several different doctors giving the same symptoms in order to get multiple prescriptions for the same drug.
Prescription Drug Laws in Washington
The Washington Uniform Controlled Substances Act has a separate section dedicated to prescription drug laws. These laws are in place to stop people from getting non-medical access to drugs as well as to stop medical professionals from mishandling drugs. Section RCW 69.50.308 of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act states the following:
- Unless a doctor gives a drug directly to the patient, a Schedule II drug cannot be dispensed without the written or electronic prescription from a doctor.
- If the prescription is transmitted through a fax, it must come directly from the doctor's office.
- A prescription for a Schedule II drug may not be refilled and must be filled within six months of its issue.
- Unless a doctor gives a drug directly to the patient, a Schedule III, IV, or V prescription drug cannot be dispensed without the written, oral or electronic prescription from a doctor.
- Oral prescriptions must immediately be followed up in writing.
- A prescription for a Schedule III, IV, or V drug may not be refilled more than 5 times and must be filled and refilled within six months of its issue.
- The prescription must be issued by a doctor under good faith that ii is medically necessary to the patient.
- A doctor cannot write a Schedule II, III, or IV drug prescription for themselves for personal use.
Penalties in Seattle for Prescription Drug Fraud
There are many penalties that can result from prescription drug abuse. People who are found with large amounts of prescription drugs can face penalties for dealing. The Uniform Controlled Substances Act Section RCW 69.50.401 states that it is “it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.”
The penalties for this offenses are as follows:
- Crimes in involving Schedule I, II or IV drugs which is a narcotic drug or flunitrazepam, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomer:
Class B felony
Maximum of 10 years of jail time
Maximum fine of $25,000 for less than 2 kilograms
Maximum fine of $100,00 for more than 2 kilograms
Amphetamine crimes have a minimum fine of $3,000
- Crimes in involving Schedule I and all other Schedule II and III drugs, all other Schedule IV drugs and all Schedule V drugs:
Class C felony
5 years of jail time
A $5,000 fine
- A pharmacy employee or doctor that knowingly allows abuse or participates in it can face penalties as well. The Uniform Controlled Substances Act Section RCW 69.50.402 states that any person who violates the laws in RCW 69.50.308 is guilty of a Class C felony and faces the penalties of:
A maximum of two years in jail and/or
A maximum fine of $2,000
- Finally, Uniform Controlled Substances Act Section RCW 69.50.403(c) states that it is illegal to:
To obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled substance, (i) by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge; or (ii) by forgery or alteration of a prescription or any written order; or (iii) by the concealment of material fact; or (iv) by the use of a false name or the giving of a false address;
- This law also includes:
- Forging prescriptions
- Giving false information to a pharmacy
- Doctor shopping
- Giving false registration numbers
- Possess fraudulent prescription
- Falsely label a prescription drug
The penalties for these crimes are Class C felonies and will result in:
- A maximum jail sentence of 2 years and/or
- A maximum fine of $2,000
Prescription Drug Fraud Lawyer
If you have been arrested for prescription fraud in Seattle, call our office right away. Attorney Karimi is here to help you. Not only will he walk you through the entire process, you'll rest easy knowing that he has a proven track record of success. Call us now to get started.