On January 30, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that over the next 45 days there would be an escalation in the number of DEA investigations focused on physicians who “excessively prescribe” narcotics, specifically opioid medications. The goal of this escalation — to fight the declared “opioid crisis in America.”
The Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice are determined to reduce the volume of addictive drugs available to the public and are currently narrowed in on the medical prescribers who are dispensing in a disproportionate volume of Scheduled II Medications such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone also known by its name brands of Vicodin and Norco. The intensification in investigations will include examining CURES reports, and statistical data collected and reported by various sources. The ultimate aim of this agenda is to increase the number of arrests and convictions of those determined to be breaking the law. The increased DEA activity is to cease current over prescribing practice by medical providers and to serve as a deterrent to other medical professionals.
The Medical Board of California is also taking a hardline approach to the opioid crisis in America and has entered into an agreement with the California Department of Public Health to research and determine which medical doctors have prescribed to individuals that have overdosed on opioid medications. The Medical Board of California is relying on CURES and the Medical Examiner’s office to locate physicians who treated and prescribed opioid medications to the deceased. Currently the Medical Board is reviewing deaths from 2012-2013, but will soon be reviewing deaths from 2014-2017.
A medical prescriber confronted with a request for an interview, subpoena of medical records from the Medical Board, an administrative inspection warrant from the DEA, or a local/ federal search warrant, needs legal representation immediately. A law enforcement agency’s determination that a physician’s prescribing practice is unusual, or excessive, may trigger extreme consequences including criminal charges and/or the revocation of the physician’s medical license. Click here for more information on the consequences of excessive prescribing.
The Law Office of Nicole Irmer has extensive experience representing medical professionals before various licensing boards (including the Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, Physician Assistance Board of California and the California State Board of Pharmacy) and in Criminal Court.