The opioid addiction epidemic has troubled lawmakers, but they believe they may have dealt a huge blow to it. A new law that went into effect on January 1st changes how doctors are required to prescribe controlled painkiller medications in order to keep a much tighter cap on patients who need these drugs to hopefully prevent addiction and abuse problems. The new law should also significantly reduce instances of prescription fraud and people who try to obtain these medications through illegal means.
What the New Law Says
According to the new law, doctors are no longer allowed to outright prescribe a full supply of prescription painkillers to new patients. Now, doctors may prescribe no more than a five-day supply of the drug for initial prescriptions. A new prescription is when a patient has not been prescribed or taken that particular medication for at least one year prior to the prescription being given. After four days, patients must then return to their doctor and get a prescription for up to a 30 day supply.
The goal of the law is to allow doctors to see and evaluate their patients at more frequent intervals in order to try to curb dependence on painkiller medications. The logic says that doctors who see their patients more frequently can recognize when an injury has healed to a certain point where painkillers are no longer necessary, and that they should cease writing these prescriptions to prevent dependency and addiction. However, the new law will also place an extra emphasis on combatting prescription fraud, which is also highly-prevalent when it comes to painkiller medications.
Prescription Fraud Explained
Cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamines, heroin, and other illegal drugs are not the only “controlled substances” out there. In fact, the term refers to anything that you need to have permission from an authorizing party in order to purchase, carry, or otherwise obtain. That means any kind of medication not approved for “over the counter” sale is also a controlled substance.
To purchase these substances, you must first obtain authorization in the form of a prescription. However, the prescription system isn’t perfect, and there are several ways people try to take advantage of it illegally. For example, paying your doctor “under the table” to write you a prescription for a drug you don’t actually need is against the law, and could put both you and your doctor in hot water. Misrepresenting your condition to try and convince your doctor to write one of these prescriptions is against the law, as is stealing one of your doctor’s prescription pads and writing your own prescription that you then take to a pharmacy to try and obtain these drugs.
Prescription fraud is almost always a felony-level drug crime, with many charges being third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Doctors who assist their patients in participating in prescription fraud could also be subject to losing their professional licenses and being barred from practicing medicine in the state.
If you have been accused of prescription drug fraud, speak with a Fort Lauderdale drug crimes lawyer today! Call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. today at (954) 840-8713 and request a consultation to discuss your legal options.