Possessing prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription is a crime in the state of Washington and in the United States in general. In order to prevent prescription drug abuse, lawmakers impose steep regulations on prescription medications. Still, many people seek access prescription drugs under fraudulent circumstances. This is referred to as prescription drug fraud. Prescription drug fraud it is a serious offense that carries felony consequences under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. There are a number of ways that prescription drug fraud can occur. Some may visit multiple doctors for the same symptoms in order to get multiple prescriptions for the same drug. Others will counterfeit or falsify prescriptions and fill them at multiple pharmacies. Regardless of the strategy, all prescription drug fraud is illegal.
Across the country, law-enforcement look to crack down on anyone committing any type of prescription drug fraud. Even medical professionals and doctors are at risk of serious criminal charges for prescription fraud. Recently, The New York Times reported that a high profile Manhattan dermatologist, Dr. Cheryl Karcher pled guilty in State Supreme Court to numerous charges including drug possession, selling prescriptions, falsifying business records and fraud.
Prosecutors alleged that Dr. Karcher used the names of some of her former patients to obtain prescription pain killers and then personally took them to various pharmacies where she had them filled under the promise that she would be personally delivering them to the patients. This was done multiple times over the past three years and allegedly gave her access to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pills for drugs like Percocet, Klonopin and other similar drugs. It is not clear whether the doctor used the pills personally, distributed them to others or sold them. However, her actions constitute multiple serious offenses. She is currently awaiting sentencing and will likely be subject to jail time, loss of her medical license and many more serious penalties.
In Washington, under RCW 69.50.308, there are a number of laws that relate to how prescription drugs should be handled by medical professionals. This includes how prescriptions should be electronically communicated, how pharmacies should handle dispensing certain drugs and what type of prescriptions may not be refilled. It states regulations such as which schedule of drugs a doctor may prescribe for themselves, and which they cannot. The purpose of these laws is to prevent those who do not medically require these drugs from getting access to them.
In Washington, a pharmacy employee or doctor that knowingly participates in prescription drug fraud or allows abuse to take place can be charged with a class C felony under RCW 69.50.402. The penalties for a conviction under this law include two years of jail time, a fine of $2000 or a combination of both. Any other type of prescription drug fraud including doctor shopping, forging prescriptions, giving false information to pharmacies or similar actions are also considered class C felonies under Washington law and can result in similar penalties.
If you are facing charges for prescription drug abuse, fraud or any other violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act in Seattle, contact an experienced drug crime defense attorney right away.