Prescription drug abuse is reaching epidemic levels in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 16 million people admit to taking drugs in an abusive manner and that 5.1 million of those addicted to a drug take prescription painkillers like opioids and Benzodiazepine. In an effort to stem these addicts from getting access to these drugs, many states have enacted laws that specifically address prescription fraud. In Washington, prescription drug fraud is covered under the Uniform Controlled Substance Act and most crimes are felonies.
One type of very common prescription drug fraud is called doctor shopping. The Center for Disease Control writes:
The term “doctor shopping” has traditionally referred to a patient obtaining controlled substances from multiple health care practitioners without the prescribers' knowledge of the other prescriptions.
Doctor shopping involves one person visiting multiple doctors for the same symptoms in an effort to get many prescriptions for additive drugs such as pain killers. These prescriptions are then filled as different pharmacies and the large quantities of pills are obtained. This is a fairly common practice for addicts and prescription drug dealers. The street value of addictive prescription drugs is often much higher than charged by a pharmacy, making it a lucrative practice.
Measures to eliminate or reduce this practice are being developed. Many states are working to build a computer system that will link all pharmacies and be able to detect when the same person attempts to fill multiple prescriptions for the same drugs. This concept is still not advanced and it does pose some concerns as patients fear it could make it harder for them to get access to medicine that they legitimately need.
In Washington, most prescription fraud crimes are either Class B or C felonies depending on the type of drug involved. The maximum penalties can include 5 to 10 years in jail and $3,000 to $5,000 in fines. If you have been accused of doctor shopping or any type of prescription drug fraud in Seattle, remember that the penalties are steep. It is vital that you call an experienced VUCSA attorney right away.