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Trombley & Hanes Tampa Criminal Lawyer
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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.

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