The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a lot of leeway when its agents combat the illegal distribution of prescription drugs. When you are a prescribing physician or pharmacist, you may be under DEA scrutiny and not realize it until they come to your door with a Notice of Inspection to scrutinize your operations.

To protect yourself in advance, keep scrupulous records of the controlled substances you handle and dispense. Follow South Carolina and federal law in every patient encounter. Documenting and lawfully prescribing and dispensing drugs may not keep DEA agents away, but you are far more likely to circumvent any sanctions when you have only made a small error. When you receive Form 82, a Notice of Inspection, contact a defense attorney familiar with DEA enforcement actions in Columbia.

What is the DEA Attempting to Prove?

DEA investigations in Columbia turn up an array of misconduct that can be as minor as improper coding or billing. More serious charges involve unaccounted for controlled substances, including the chemicals used to make them, overprescribing scheduled legal drugs such as painkillers, and forging prescriptions. The DEA could also charge healthcare professionals with federal drug trafficking, where a conviction can lead to a 40-year prison sentence.

Types of Enforcement Actions the DEA Can Take

The DEA is a branch of the United States Department of Justice. Between the two agencies, healthcare professionals can be charged with:

  • Conspiracy to possess, distribute, or dispense controlled substances
  • Drug trafficking
  • Diverting drugs from legal to illegal purposes
  • Any violation of the Controlled Substances Act
  • Dispensing drugs with no or improper labeling
  • Failure to keep proper records
  • Prescribing medications outside the scope of a physician’s practice
  • Prescribing drugs to drug-addicted patients

When the DEA follows a whistleblower or informant’s tip or works in tandem with other law enforcement to expose a target, they will conduct inspections, audits, and possibly raids. When officers find evidence of any of the above infractions or crimes, enforcement actions can include:

  • Monetary fines, including special assessments
  • Suspending or revoking the DEA Certificate of Registration
  • Medical license suspension
  • Probation
  • Criminal charges

DEA agents may ask for voluntary surrender of a DEA Certificate of Registration, but anyone in this position should consult a lawyer in Columbia before giving in to this DEA enforcement action.

When the DEA Comes Calling

DEA agents are not interested in giving healthcare professionals time to straighten up their logs and compliance protocol. They can arrive unannounced to ensure they can find any evidence they are looking for. Generally, they will peruse logs and insurance billing records and ask for information about drug disposal. They will interview employees. They may ask targets to sign informed consents for warrantless searches. Do not interact with DEA agents until a Columbia lawyer advises you about DEA enforcement actions.

DEA Enforcement Actions in Columbia Range from Warnings to Prison

You may keep lax books about how you dispose of controlled substances or bill Medicaid or Medicare. Your office manager may be diverting legal drugs to the illegal drug trade. Whatever the reason the DEA visits your clinic, hospital, office, or pharmacy, you should know they have a wide range of enforcement actions they can take when they find evidence of wrongdoing.

Even when they do not find evidence, they can wreak havoc on your daily operations and finances. You have a constitutional right to legal representation when you are charged with a crime. You need a skilled attorney on your side to combat DEA enforcement actions in Columbia. Call now to discuss your legal options.

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