Tampa Doctor & Pharmacy Opioid Litigation Lawyer
Doctor & Pharmacy Defense
Pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma aren’t the only entities finding themselves in the crosshairs of the federal government when it comes to placing blame for the opioid crisis – the misuse and overdose of prescription and non-prescription opioids liked to an increased prescription of opioid medications. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated its intention to “pursuing both criminal and civil actions against wrongdoing entities and individuals up and down the prescription opioid supply chain.” This means while government investigations might start with the pharma companies, they soon trickle down and target doctors, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and doctor practice groups. These individuals and entities may be doing nothing more than providing medical treatment and pain management, but they are being held responsible for a national epidemic of someone else’s making.
The Tampa opioid litigation lawyers of Trombley & Hanes, P.A. represents doctors and pharmacies who become embroiled in criminal prosecutions and civil actions for prescribing or dispensing opioids. The firm’s attorneys are former prosecutors with experience in both criminal and civil litigation, including white collar crimes and general crimes and offenses, and civil matters involving administrative and regulatory actions. Contact Trombley & Hanes, P.A. for advice and representation when dealing with government investigations or enforcement as a doctor or pharmacist, pharmacy or medical group.
Doctors Forced to Justify Their Medical Care
A doctor found to be prescribing “too many” opioids or too high a dose can trigger an investigation and enforcement action. The burden then falls on the doctors to justify their treatment plans to the government. Law enforcement has taken on the role of deciding when a doctor’s prescriptions are appropriate or excessive. But for a patient with intractable pain, refusing to prescribe opioids could be considered a form of malpractice that puts the doctor’s license or practice at risk. Doctors are caught in the middle between their ethical duty to help patients in need and the possibility of losing their license or worse for prescribing opioids beyond what the DOJ feels is proper.
Pharmacists Drafted Into the Front Lines of the War on Drugs
Pharmacists and the pharmacies that employ them are being held liable for dispensing prescription opioids while ignoring “red flags” – indications of drug diversion and drug-seeking behavior. The government views pharmacists as being on the front lines in combatting prescription opioid abuse and overdose. Agencies like the CDC put the responsibility on pharmacies and pharmacists to flag suspicious prescriptions written by doctors for opioid medications and prevent them from being dispensed. Pharmacists are apparently supposed to evaluate new prescriptions orders, determine whether a medication is properly prescribed, identify if a prescription is forged, and assess each prescription for “red flags” such as whether the prescriptions originate from outside the “immediate geographic area” or if the patient pays in cash. Pharmacies can be shut down or prevented from dispensing certain medications.
DOJ, HHS Actively Pursuing Civil and Criminal Sanctions of Doctors and Pharmacies
Since 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has released two dozen press releases touting successful civil and criminal enforcement actions against doctors and pharmacists, practice groups and pharmacies, in Tampa and nationwide. The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) has done the same thing. Below are just a few examples:
- A physician assistant in Maryland was stopped from prescribing opioids and other controlled substances
- A Tampa-area physician, pharmacy and clinic owners were sued by the DDOG for Controlled Substance Act violations
- A Tampa pharmacy and two employees have been prohibited from dispensing opioids or other controlled substances
- A federal court ordered a North Carolina pharmacy, pharmacy owner, and pharmacist-in-charge to pay more than $1 million and stop dispensing opioids.
- An Oklahoma doctor was charged with illegally distributing controlled substances, facing 20 years to life in prison and a million-dollar fine.
- A former Norfolk doctor was sentenced to 10 months’ incarceration and fined over $300,000 for his role in an internet pharmacy organization.
- A federal court ordered a North Carolina pharmacy and pharmacist to pay $600,000 to permanently cease dispensing opioids or other controlled substances
- A Philadelphia doctor was sentenced to 24 months in prison for selling prescriptions of Suboxone and Klonopin.
- A physician owner of a pain management facility in Tennessee and his wife were sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay $730,000 in restitution for health care fraud offenses involving prescription opiate pain medication.
- A former Michigan doctor was sentenced to 75 months in prison for illegally prescribing opiates and committing health care fraud.
Health care professionals can find themselves without a license, without the ability to run their business, fined or in jail, based on violations of the Controlled Substances Act or the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Strong legal representation is essential to avoiding the most serious penalties and liability for practicing one’s profession.
Help With Opioid Litigation in Tampa, Florida and Beyond
Trombley & Hanes, P.A. is experienced in providing strong defense to doctors and other health care professionals charged with wrongdoing in civil and criminal courts in Tampa and throughout Florida and beyond. For assistance in opioid litigation defense in Tampa, Florida or nationwide, contact Trombley & Hanes, P.A. by calling 813-229-7918.
Frequently Asked Questions for Opioid Litigation Defense in Tampa, Florida, Nationwide
Why are Doctors and Pharmacies Being Implicated in Crimes Associated with Opioids?
The opioid epidemic has been a significant public health crisis in the U.S., and various healthcare professionals have been implicated in contributing to the problem. Common charges doctors and pharmacists in Florida and nationwide face may include, but are not limited to:
- Diverting opioids to the black market.
- Failure to properly monitor patients taking opioids, leading to addiction or overdose.
- False billing and insurance fraud
- Operating “Pill Mills” that primarily exists to prescribe and dispense opioids inappropriately and excessively.
- Participating in conspiracies with drug dealers or other individuals to distribute opioids illegally.
- Prescription fraud.
If you are being investigated for or arrested and charged with an opioid crime, your professional license and future may be in jeopardy. Contact our skilled doctor & pharmacy opioid litigation attorneys in Tampa today to discuss your case with a law firm that can help defend your rights to do your job effectively.
Which Law Enforcement Agencies are Investigating Doctors and Pharmacies for Opioid Charges?
Law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies — from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney General’s Office to the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force and Middle District of Florida — are actively investigating and prosecuting cases of opioid-related misconduct that allegedly contributed to the opioid crisis through illegal activities.
If you are a doctor or pharmacist contacted by law enforcement due to allegations of opioid misconduct, contact our experienced doctor & pharmacy opioid litigation lawyers in Tampa today for help. As state and federal officials blame healthcare professionals for the opioid epidemic, no one is immune to their invasion and accusatory investigative tactics. You do not have to be intimidated or threatened with prosecution. We can help. Call us now to learn more.
How Can I Defend My Professional License from Opioid Misconduct Allegations?
Because of the widespread nature of opioid misconduct, physicians, and pharmacies in Florida and across the nature are being investigated for crimes — often with little evidence to prove their involvement. Unfortunately, medical professionals are accused of contributing to the opioid epidemic simply by doing their jobs. Defending your professional license from opioid misconduct accusations can be complex and challenging. Having a skilled attorney by your side can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Acting quickly and proactively to protect your license and reputation is essential. We can help, starting with an initial case assessment.
Should I Turn Over My Medical Practice Records to Opioid Misconduct Investigators?
Most doctors and pharmacists maintain comprehensive records of all communications, treatment actions, and prescription records, which can be valuable in supporting their cases. If you are being investigated for opioid misconduct and were asked to turn over your records to cooperate, we recommend calling our doctor and pharmacy opioid litigation defense attorneys in Tampa first. You may decline participation if the investigators do not have a warrant to collect your records. If the investigators have a subpoena for your documents, cooperate with the investigators and contact our doctor and pharmacy opioid litigation defense attorneys in Tampa immediately so we can start outlining your defense strategy.
Are Pharmaceutical Companies Being Pursued for Their Involvement in the Opioid Epidemic?
The federal government has been forced to pursue all parties who manufacture, distribute, and prescribe opioids in response to the public’s outcry against addiction and overdose deaths. Pharmaceutical companies, like doctors and pharmacists, have been targeted to participate in national settlements.
In 2021, nationwide settlements were reached to resolve all opioids litigation brought by states and local political subdivisions against the three largest pharmaceutical distributors —McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — and against manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and its parent company Johnson & Johnson.
In late 2022, agreements were announced with three pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart — and two additional manufacturers — Allergan and Teva.