If you are a physician, pharmaceutical manufacturer, pharmacy owner, or someone with access to controlled prescription drugs, you understand the regulatory requirements for keeping records and safeguarding any pharmaceuticals under your control. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), under its Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), pounces on red flags, investigating and prosecuting drug diversion cases.

If the DEA targets you for investigation, immediately seek help from an attorney well-versed in defending federal crimes and how the DEA works. Not only is your career at stake, but your freedom is, too. When legal pharmaceuticals end up in the illicit drug trade and federal law enforcement wants to talk to you, a Columbia drug diversion defense lawyer should be at your side. Call our firm now to begin working with a talented DEA defense attorney.

What is Drug Diversion?

Legal pharmaceuticals must be manufactured using specific chemicals. A licensed physician or medical practice then prescribes them, and the prescription is fulfilled through a licensed pharmacy. If the drugs end up unlawfully trafficked at any stage of the process, drug diversion has occurred.

The DEA employs state-of-the-art intelligence, informants, and whistleblowers to look for clues that diversion is occurring. The DEA’s Diversion Control Division is dedicated to preventing, detecting, and investigating any diversion of controlled legal drugs and chemicals while ensuring there is a robust supply of pharmaceuticals available for medical and scientific reasons. A Columbia drug diversion defense attorney can explain the steps the DEA takes and how an investigation can impact a medical professional’s career.

Notifying a Target about an Investigation

The formal notice that a medical practice or pharmacy is under investigation comes when DEA investigators show up at the door with a Notice of Inspection (Form 82). The notice announces the DEA Diversion Control Division’s intent to inspect the premises, which the physician or pharmacist may refuse. Upon refusal, investigators usually contact a federal district court judge for an administrative search warrant and, if there is probable cause of criminal activity, a criminal search warrant.

Consenting to an inspection means acknowledging:

  • The right to refuse the inspection
  • Any incriminating evidence can be used against the target
  • The consent to inspection of the property is agreed to and voluntary
  • The consent to inspection of the business records is agreed to and voluntary

Before consenting to a DEA inspection, contact a Columbia drug diversion defense attorney to protect your rights.

What Do DEA Investigators Look for During an Inspection?

Investigators seek any evidence that a target or employee has diverted prescription drugs. They will ask for compliance policy and procedure manuals, prescription pads, copies of prescriptions issued to patients, access logs for drug storage areas, and will physically inspect the storage areas. They can also review video surveillance, check drug inventories, and ask how employees dispose of prescription drugs. Insurance billing records are crucial if investigators suspect Medicare or Medicaid fraud.

Inspectors will also interview employees, especially if pharmaceutical drug records do not account for missing opioids or other prescription drugs. Federal drug diversion defense counsel should discuss the situation with all employees and attend all DEA interviews.

Diversion Investigators’ Report

Once investigators finish their inspection, they will report what they found. Usually, this is a non-compliance report concerning policy and procedure deficiencies. If they find evidence of drug diversion, investigators can proceed to suspend or revoke a practice or pharmacy’s DEA Registration or forward the report to the DOJ for a decision on whether to prosecute, generally under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) or Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act (CDTA). An experienced Columbia drug diversion defense attorney can advise you of the best steps to take to prevent the loss of your registration or professional license and will advocate on your behalf throughout the process.

Let a Columbia Drug Diversion Defense Attorney Stand with You

When you come under DEA scrutiny, you will need a proactive advocate. The DOJ could decide to vigorously prosecute you after reviewing DEA inspection reports, and more warrants and inspections will follow. A Columbia drug diversion defense lawyer stands with you when the DEA stands at your door. Call today to get started on protecting your future.

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