This past August, our president said he was going to declare the current opioid epidemic a national emergency, which was recommended by his opioid commission.Although President Trump has yet to fulfill that promise, some legislators have decided to take matters into their own hands.Current Florida governor candidate and former congresswoman Gwen Graham said that our state should sue the pharmaceutical industry for their role in opioid addiction and to recover the costs we have spent on treating opioid addicts.Graham’s approach is similar to what former Governor Lawton Chiles undertook when he sued the tobacco industry. In 1997, the tobacco industry ended up settling out of court for $11.3 billion.Citing 4,000 deaths in our state over the past year, Graham said, “This is such an important issue to Florida, and a crisis across the state. We need to be holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in addicting so many people across the state to opioids…This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. This is a caring issue. We have a crisis in this state.”Graham isn’t the only public figure hoping to hold drug companies liable for opioid addiction. Over 20 cities, counties, and states – including attorneys general from Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma – have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers for their part in this opioid crisis.We absolutely need to address the opioid epidemic and the number of deaths and addictions it has caused. Despite this, though, it’s important to remember that prescription drug fraud is still a crime in our state.
What Is Prescription Drug Fraud?
When you go to a doctor and he or she writes you a prescription, you are legally allowed to use and possess that drug. If you don’t have a valid prescription for a drug, though, and are caught with it, you could face prescription drug fraud charges.Some people acquire these prescription drugs by:
- Forging a prescription
- Doctor shopping, or going to different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same condition
- Altering prescriptions to get more drugs than originally prescribed
- Stealing a blank prescription pad
- Calling in a fake prescription by pretending to be a physician
- Filling someone else’s prescription without their permission
The most common prescription drugs that are frequently involved in prescription drug fraud are Oxycodone, Diazepam, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam, Lorcet, Dilaudid, Percocet, Soma, Darvocet, Morphine, and Adderall.These drugs require a valid prescription for their use because they are extremely powerful, and if you obtain them in any other way besides a legal prescription, you could potentially be arrested.
What Are the Consequences for Prescription Drug Fraud?
If you are in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription or legal permission, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony offense is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Depending on the specific prescription drug and the amount of the drug in your possession, you could also face drug trafficking charges. For example, if you have more than four grams of Oxycodone without a valid prescription, you could be charged with trafficking.Prescription drug fraud and possession is taken seriously in our state. If you are facing a prescription drug fraud charge, reach out to an experienced Florida defense attorney to fight for your rights.About the Author:Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he's done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.