Ketamine Investigations - Federal Lawyer
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Ketamine Investigations

Lynette Byrd
Attorney Lynette Byrd
Ketamine Investigations Team Lead
Former DOJ Attorney envelope icon Contact Lynette
Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
Ketamine Investigations Team Lead envelope icon Contact Nick
Wade McFaul
Wade McFaul
Ketamine Investigations Consultant
Former HHS-OIG Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge

The drug ketamine has been getting increased scrutiny by regulators and law enforcement officers at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As a result, healthcare providers that use ketamine, from hospitals to veterinarians to pharmacies, are now more likely than ever to face an investigation into how they prescribe or use the drug in the course of their business. While the goal of the DEA is to protect the public, the costs and the inconvenience of the investigation can be substantial. Worse, investigators are prone to acting on what appears to be incriminating evidence without listening to an explanation.

The healthcare defense lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. guide individuals and companies through this complex and stressful process, helping them invoke their rights and protect themselves from civil or even criminal liability related to the drug ketamine.

Ketamine and Its Uses

Ketamine is an important drug that has legitimate medicinal uses, particularly for pain management and anesthesia. In these circumstances, ketamine is generally in an injectable liquid form that is clear like water. Doctors also occasionally prescribe ketamine “off-label” to treat certain mental health disorders as a mood stabilizing medication, like anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mood disorders. Racemic ketamine, or R-ketamine, has recently been approved for clinical trials on depressed patients and used experimentally to treat depression, more specifically treatment-resistant depression, as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy.

However, ketamine is also used recreationally for the dissociative anesthetic effects that it causes at doses lower than what is necessary for general anesthesia. Recreational users take ketamine, often in its white powder form, to experience this sense of detachment from their bodies. If the dose is too high, the dissociation from reality can become extreme. These effects can happen very quickly after taking the drug, and there are indications that ketamine use can have serious adverse events, including a dependence on the drug, leading to addiction.

Because of its legitimate medicinal use but also its potential for abuse and addiction, ketamine is listed as a Schedule III drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act’s regulations (21 C.F.R. § 1308.13).

Unfortunately for healthcare companies that handle ketamine, the popularity of its recreational use, together with several recent high-profile overdose deaths involving the drug, have made regulators and investigators more attentive to signs of misconduct.

The Risks of a DEA Investigation

Investigations by the DEA pose significant risks to healthcare companies that use or handle ketamine, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Veterinarians

It is rarely the case that a DEA investigation is just a routine audit or inspection. If the DEA informs you that you or your company is under investigation, the agency has very likely already found indications of misconduct and intend to look more closely. If ketamine is at issue, that misconduct is often drug diversion, or the misappropriation of prescription drugs or controlled substances. Some examples of drug diversion involving ketamine are:

  • Prescribing more ketamine than required or medically necessary
  • Writing a prescription for ketamine that is not needed, at all
  • Falsifying medical symptoms in order to justify a ketamine prescription
  • Keeping some of a legitimately prescribed dose of ketamine for your own use or someone else’s

These can lead to criminal charges and, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, to criminal convictions that carry substantial amounts of prison time, huge criminal fines, and the loss of your medical license.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

How to Respond to a DEA Investigation

The correct way to respond to a DEA investigation will depend on a variety of factors, including you or your company’s interests. At Oberheiden P.C., though, we prefer a proactive approach that sees the investigation as a criminal one that is in its weakest stages, when it is the most vulnerable to challenges.

This often involves acting quickly as soon as you learn that you are under investigation by the DEA. As soon as you hire our firm, we learn what we can about the nature of the investigation and conduct an internal investigation of our own into your practice to see what the DEA is likely to find. By looking both ways – into the details of the DEA’s investigation and into your conduct – we can get a better understanding of what is really going on and what would be the best way to proceed.

In many cases, what we learn is that the DEA has found what it thinks is incriminating evidence, but which actually has an innocent explanation that overly eager law enforcement officers have not thought of. By opening a dialogue with DEA investigators and showing them exculpatory evidence or presenting the innocent explanation, we can often persuade the agency that further investigation is not necessary and get them to close the case. This is an ideal outcome, as it eliminates the inconvenience of a DEA investigation into you or your company and minimizes the costs of your defense.

In other cases, we may learn that the DEA might be on to something. There are still lots of options that can be pursued. At the very least, we can ensure that the scope of the investigation is kept narrow and that your rights during it are invoked to their fullest extent. This can dramatically mitigate the fallout of the investigation and keep the case as small as possible.

The Importance of Keeping Things from Escalating

As the investigation progresses, the most important thing to do is to keep it from escalating. Minor violations can lead to administrative penalties, but these are often kept from the public eye and are frequently limited to actions against your ability to work in the healthcare field. More severe violations can lead to civil liability, which can impose substantial financial penalties on you or your company in additional to professional sanctions. Finally, criminal cases carry the potential for prison time.

It is absolutely crucial to keep cases out of the criminal justice system. Doing that requires an informed and assertive challenge to the investigation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Ketamine Investigations and Oberheiden P.C.

Are Ketamine Investigations Becoming More Common?

They seem to be more common now than they were in the past.

Ketamine is a drug that has been used recreationally since the 1970s. While it seems to have become more popular lately, it has not exploded in use like opioids and fentanyl. However, several famous people, like the Friends actor Matthew Perry, have overdosed on the drug in the last few years. This has shone a spotlight on ketamine, and authorities may be reacting to that.

What Criminal Charges Can Follow a Ketamine Investigation?

It depends on what the investigation uncovers. However, ketamine is a controlled substance, so it is illegal to possess without a valid prescription. This has criminal implications for both the person in actual possession of it, as well as whoever gave it or sold it to them. For healthcare professionals who get tied to illegally possessed ketamine, this can lead to some serious criminal charges like:

  • Drug possession
  • Drug possession with intent to sell
  • Drug trafficking

While these drug crimes are generally associated with highly addictive substances like cocaine or heroin and with users or drug dealers on the streets, so-called “white collar drug crimes” have been filed more frequently from the federal level in recent years. This has likely come from the fallout of the opioid epidemic, which made it clear how centrally the healthcare system could become in illegal drug use.

What Makes Oberheiden P.C. Different from Other Defense Firms?

Several things set Oberheiden P.C. apart from our competition. One of the most important, in our opinion, is the fact that we do not employ attorneys who do not have extensive experience in their field, or even any paralegals.

We think that this makes our legal representation better. Unlike other law firms, which will delegate the work on your case from the senior associate or partner whose experience drew you to their law firm down to junior associates or even to paralegals, at Oberheiden P.C., all of the work on your case will be handled by a senior-level attorney.

Not only do we think this is a more honest approach to the process of legal representation; we also think that it enhances the representation that we provide. With experienced eyes going over every detail, rather than merely providing oversight to those with less experience, we are far more likely to find something that helps you win your case.

What is a National Law Firm?

Oberheiden P.C. is a national law firm that has offices in nearly every state and major American city. No matter where you are located, there is a very good chance that Oberheiden P.C. has an experienced lawyer who can help you nearby.

Why Don’t You Call Yourselves the Best Ketamine Investigation Defense Firm?

This is something that we prefer to let our former clients say about us, rather than saying it about ourselves. You can read their testimonials here.


Ketamine Investigation Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden P.C.

If you have learned that you or your healthcare company are being investigated by the DEA, or any other federal agency, over issues related to the drug ketamine then you need to take swift action to ensure that your rights are protected and your future is secured.

Call the ketamine investigation defense lawyers at the national law firm Oberheiden P.C. at their national intake hotline, (888) 680-1745, or contact them online to get started right away.

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