Board of Pharmacy

In California, pharmacists and pharmacist techs – like other medical professionals – are required to be licensed by the appropriate board. The California Board of Pharmacy is responsible for setting standards for the profession, licensing applicants, and enforcing any violations of the laws and regulations governing pharmacists in the state.

If a pharmacist or pharmacist tech is accused of a criminal or administrative violation, then the Board’s Enforcement Unit will investigate the allegations against them. Depending on the outcome of this investigation and subsequent legal proceedings, this may result in formal disciplinary action, including probation, suspension, or even revocation of a pharmacology license. A seasoned pharmacist license defense attorney can advocate for you throughout the process to protect your rights and minimize any potential impact on your career.

The Law Offices of Nicole Irmer represent healthcare professionals throughout California, including pharmacists and pharmacist techs. We offer skilled, compassionate representation, with the understanding that people make mistakes and go through difficult times. Reach out to our law firm today to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.

The California Board of Pharmacy Investigation Process

An investigation into a pharmacist or pharmacist tech may begin when they receive a complaint from a member of the public, including a client/patient, family member, coworker, or insurance company. In some situations, a legal authority may alert the Board of Pharmacy to a potential violation of the law.

Once the Board receives a complaint, the matter will be referred to the Enforcement Unit for investigation. An investigator may reach out to you at this stage to request documents or ask for an interview. You should not sign anything or talk to the investigator before speaking with a California pharmacy license defense attorney. Anything that you say to them could be used against you in an enforcement action or even in a criminal proceeding.

 A complaint could be based on any number of alleged violations, such as:

  • Negligence
  • Inadequate Accounting of Medication
  • Boundary Violations
  • Inadequate Maintenance of Patient Charts & Records
  • Diversion of Medication
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Criminal Arrests, Charges, or Convictions
  • Unprofessional Conduct
  • Violation of Drug Laws
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Importantly, because prescription medications are highly regulated under federal and state law, there may be the potential for criminal prosecution with many allegations related to pharmacists and pharmacy techs. Again, it is vital that you reach out to a healthcare license defense lawyer as soon as possible if you learn that you are under investigation by the Pharmacy Board.

Depending on what the investigation reveals, the Board may decide to close the complaint confidentially. Alternatively, for minor violations, the Board may issue a fine and/or citation, issue an educational letter, or invite you to a voluntary educational review.

If the Board finds that a more serious violation occurred, then the case will likely be referred to the Office of the Attorney General. A deputy attorney general may then file a formal Accusation. At this stage, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a stipulated settlement based on mitigating evidence and other factors. Otherwise, the case will proceed to a hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings. 

If your case goes to a hearing, then an Administrative Law Judge will hear arguments and evidence before rendering a decision. The Board will then review and approve the decision, imposing sanctions if warranted. 

Being accused of violating the standards of practice for your profession – or of committing a crime – can be stressful and scary. An experienced California pharmacy license defense lawyer will work collaboratively with you to put together a strong defense. If the case cannot be resolved informally or through negotiation, then your attorney will advocate for you in a hearing and work to minimize the potential consequences.

Potential Consequences for a Pharmacy Board Enforcement Action

The California Board of Pharmacy groups violations into 4 categories. Its disciplinary guidelines then suggest sanctions for each category:

  • Category I: minimum penalty of revocation or revocation stayed with 2 years probation, maximum penalty of revocation. Examples of Category I violations include violations of recordkeeping requirements, smaller or isolated failure to abide by or enforce prescription or refill requirements, improper compounding of drug products, and failure to adequately supervise staff.
  • Category II: minimum penalty of revocation or revocation stayed with either 3 or 5 years of probation, maximum penalty revocation. Examples of Category II violations include failure to abide by prohibitions on referral rebates or kickbacks, violations of controlled substance secure prescription requirements or inventory controls, and unlawful possession of dangerous drugs.
  • Category III: minimum penalty of revocation or revocation stayed with 90 days actual suspension and 3 to 5 years probation. Examples of Category III violations include failure to abide by Drug Supply Chain Security Act requirements, failure to ensure proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, and dispensing or furnishing medications without a valid prescription.
  • Category IV: the penalty for all violations is revocation, as this is the category for the most serious violations. Examples of Category IV violations include violations related to drug possession, sale, or transportation, repeated or serious Category I, II, or III violations, violation of laws related to self-administration of controlled substances that create an infection control risk, and failure to respond to an Accusation or to another disciplinary matter (such as a petition to revoke probation).

In some cases, it may be possible to receive a lesser discipline, such as a letter of reproval, probation, or a license suspension. Alternatively, you may be able to surrender your license rather than have it revoked. 

These disciplinary guidelines demonstrate just how seriously the California Board of Pharmacy takes alleged violations of the laws and regulations surrounding pharmacy professionals. In addition, many of these violations could result in criminal charges. For these reasons, you should reach out to a compassionate California pharmacist license defense attorney immediately after receiving notice that you are under investigation by the Board.

How Our Law Firm Can Help

Being accused of violating your professional standards as a pharmacist can be incredibly stressful, particularly given the potential for criminal charges for certain violations in addition to disciplinary sanctions. Fortunately, you don’t have to face these issues alone. Attorney Nicole Irmer will stand by your side through the process and will fight to protect your rights and your license.

Based in San Diego, the Law Offices of Nicole Irmer represents healthcare professionals throughout California who are facing investigations, accusations, and criminal charges. With more than 20 years of experience, we are highly skilled at negotiating favorable outcomes for our clients and effectively representing them at hearings. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a California pharmacy license defense lawyer, call us at 619-237-6130 or fill out our online contact form.