DEA Applications and Denials Lawyer - Oberheiden, P.C.
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DEA Applications and Denials

Skilled Legal Counsel for Healthcare Practitioners Facing DEA Denial

After all the years of higher education, after all the time and energy and money you invested in starting a medical practice, and after all the careful behavior put toward cultivating a good reputation… it is almost unthinkable that you could see your career aspirations stall or slip away simply because the federal government denies your application.

But if the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denies you a Certificate of Registration for prescribing or dispensing controlled substances, that’s exactly what can happen.

Because the consequences of a DEA application denial are so profound and far-reaching, the federal government can only deny a potential registrant’s application under specific circumstances. Otherwise, the agency should process the application in a timely manner and in good faith.

Unfortunately, not everyone’s application proceeds smoothly. Unexpected challenges and delays happen. And while those issues can take months or longer to be resolved, you and your practice are left facing an absolute roadblock in the meantime.

This isn’t fair, and you don’t have to simply accept an unnecessarily complicated or lengthy application process on the DEA’s terms. An experienced DEA defense attorney might be able to help.

The lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C. include former federal prosecutors who used to represent the U.S. government against regulated businesses and individuals. Now they represent healthcare providers like you against agencies like the DEA, putting their invaluable experience on “the other side” to work for you.

Any number of obstacles might arise while making your first application for a DEA Certificate or Registration (or a subsequent application after a previous denial or voluntary surrender), and our office is here to guide you through all of them. We will fight to see you get the registration you deserve so that you can put your hard-earned education, professional licenses, and business acumen to work.

You don’t have to accept a DEA denial — or an unfair application process — even if the DEA tries to make the process more onerous than it ought to be. Let us help. Contact Oberheiden, P.C. and learn more about what we might be able to do in your case.

When Can the DEA Deny an Application for Registration?

The DEA can only deny an application for a Certificate of Registration when it has specific grounds for doing so. Those grounds are the same required for revoking a registration that has already been approved:

  • You falsified information in your application for DEA registration
  • Medicare or Medicaid has excluded you from participation in its programs
  • You have been convicted of a felony involving a controlled substance
  • At least one state has revoked, suspended, or denied your license
  • You have voluntarily surrendered your registration in the past
  • You have engaged in behavior that goes against the public interest
  • Allowing you to practice would pose an immediate danger to public health or safety

Contact Oberheiden, P.C. online today.

What Does “Against the Public” Interest Mean?

If the sixth factor we listed above, “engaging in behavior that goes against the public interest,” sounds vague to you, you aren’t alone. The DEA may try to justify a denial on this ground if the others don’t fit. However, the burden of proof is on the DEA to demonstrate that granting you a Certificate of Registration would hurt the public interest or safety.

In making that determination, the DEA may consider whether you:

  • Have complied with applicable federal, state, and local laws
  • Have any previous convictions (at either the state or federal level) relating to controlled substances
  • Are able to maintain effective controls against controlled substances being diverted into unlawful channels
  • Are experienced with handling or distributing controlled substances

The Administrator may also consider any other factors relevant to public interest and safety. If the Administrator’s ultimate conclusion results in the denial of your application, you can file an appeal in federal court.

What Happens if the DEA Denies My Application for DEA Registration?

Before the DEA can formally deny your application, it must do two things:

  • Issue a formal Order to Show Cause, which outlines the reasons it believes your application should be denied and then orders you to explain why your application should be approved instead.
  • Hold a hearing (if you request one) in which both sides will make an argument and present evidence to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who will make a recommendation as to whether the application should be approved. The ALJ’s recommendation is then submitted to the DEA Administrator for a final decision, which is subject to appeal.

If you wish to request a hearing, you must do so within 30 days of receiving the Order to Show Cause. Otherwise, you will waive your right to a hearing.

Order to Show Cause Hearings are complex legal proceedings, and there is a lot on the line. You can expect the DEA to come prepared, and its attorneys are well versed in this sophisticated area of law. Accordingly, it is in your best interest to act quickly and hire an experienced team of attorneys to argue your case at the hearing (and, if necessary, on appeal).

Who Needs a Certificate of Registration from the DEA?

DEA registration is required for any party that wishes to prescribe or dispense a controlled substance in the United States. This includes:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Dentists
  • Veterinarians
  • Any other person who plans to issue prescriptions for controlled substances (which includes many prescription medications) or directly dispense such substances to the public

How Long Should the DEA Application Process Take?

According to the DEA itself, all new applications for a Certificate of Registration should be processed within 4 to 6 weeks. Renewal Applications should take approximately 4 weeks.

Unfortunately, the DEA is notoriously bad at adhering to its own timelines, and potential registrants may endure many months of uncertainty while finding it nearly impossible to get any indication or response from the DEA whatsoever.

This isn’t merely a matter of patience. Every day you spend waiting for application approval is a day of lost income. While the agency is entitled to a reasonable amount of time to process applications, if you are experiencing undue hassle or delay, an attorney may be able to help. We invite you to contact Oberheiden, P.C. right away.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden



Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney


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)

Don’t Delay: Schedule a Free Consultation with Oberheiden, P.C.’s Knowledgeable DEA Applications and Denials Attorneys

If the DEA has denied your application for DEA registration, has issued an Order to Show Cause in response to your application, or if your application process is taking too long or otherwise seems unfair, we urge you to contact Oberheiden, P.C. for a free and confidential consultation right away.

Our DEA defense attorneys are available seven days a week, even on weekends, to talk about your case and how we might help. Our services are available nationwide. Oberheiden, P.C. federal law attorneys represent practices and practitioners facing DEA hearings or denials across the country.

This information has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Reading of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes. Oberheiden P.C. is a Texas PC with headquarters in Dallas. Mr. Oberheiden limits his practice to federal law.

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