21 U.S.C. 841 – Prescription Drugs, Opioids, and Pill Mills: Time to Seek Experienced Defense Lawyers
Prescription and Drug Fraud Defense Attorneys
About Oberheiden, P.C.
Oberheiden, P.C. is known for its healthcare fraud defense practice. What makes Oberheiden, P.C. a first-choice for clients is our powerful combination of government experience and trial expertise. Many of our attorneys have held relevant positions within the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and were previously in charge of DEA and healthcare fraud investigations, grand jury proceedings, and federal trials.
Clients understand the importance of being familiar with government protocols. Oberheiden, P.C. has advised and successfully defended healthcare providers and business owners against civil and criminal healthcare fraud investigations involving opioids, pill mills, prescription fraud, pharmacy fraud, pharmacy investigations, doctor shopping, Anti-Kickback, Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, Tricare fraud, fraud in connection with the Department of Labor benefit program, Stark Law, and False Claims Act allegations.
Current Pain Prescription Investigations
The U.S. healthcare system expects physicians to find the right balance between making a living and serving patients responsibly. What the system fails to acknowledge is that millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain and require ongoing pain treatment. Many of these long-term patients have exhausted or simply do not qualify for interventional procedures or surgeries. According to many pain specialists, prescriptions are then the most promising way to control, or at least reduce, the most severe pain symptoms of this large pain population.
More than ever before, narcotic prescriptions are now under extreme regulatory scrutiny. To combat the undisputedly existing opioid epidemic, the federal government is currently investigating large numbers of physicians that routinely order Controlled Substances Act Schedule II and Schedule III prescriptions, in particular narcotic drugs involving oxycodone and acetaminophen such as OxyContin, Perocet, Percocet, Percodan, Endocet, Roxicet, Roxilox, Tylox, MS Contin, Docusate Sodium, Zanaflex, Colace, Motrin and similar brands.
Recent indictments from virtually all parts of the country demonstrate the force with which federal prosecutors and specially created task forces (“Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit”) are looking to identify, investigate, and prosecute the country’s top prescribers of pain medications.
Penalties of Violations
The manufacture, distribution, and dispensing of controlled substances is governed by the Controlled Substances Act, see 21 U.S.C. 801-971. The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs in five schedules based on the drugs’ medical value, risk of abuse, and patient safety. Under this Act, physicians may issue prescriptions for controlled substances as long as the prescriptions are medically necessary, serve a legitimate medical purpose, are consistent with the acceptable practice of medicine, and otherwise comply with the law. Specifically, 21 Code of Federal Regulations Section 1306.04 provides the following limitations to prescriptions issued under the Controlled Substances Act:
“[A] prescription for a controlled substance to be effective must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his professional practice. The responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.”
21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) makes it a felony to knowingly and intentionally distribute a controlled substance other than in the usual course of professional practice and for a legitimate medical purpose. 21 U.S.C. 846 makes it a crime to attempt or conspire with others to violate Section 841(a)(1).
Most recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Justice have brought federal criminal charges against pain medication prescribing physicians. In these cases, the government charged the provider with serious federal felonies, revoked the physician’s DEA privileges, and suspended the physician’s medical license.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you have questions about current investigations, need guidance on compliance, or have been charged with a crime under 21 U.S.C. 841 or 18 U.S.C. 1347, you must contact experienced defense attorneys right away. Consultations with the attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. are free of charge and absolutely confidential.
Are You Operating a Pill Mill?
Recent public announcements by Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, and the current indictments brought against physicians across the country by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) leave no doubt about the seriousness of the federal government to scrutinize pain medication prescribing physicians and to prosecute violations of the Controlled Substances Act.
The question becomes: How do I avoid federal scrutiny for my medical practice and what exactly is a pill mill?
Recently charged cases share certain characteristics and elements of so-called pill mills and opioid prescription fraud. In general, the government alleges that addicts and drug dealers (rather than ordinary patients) obtain prescriptions for medications that are both dangerous and known to be frequently abused. In all cases, prosecutors and DEA agents have argued that the prescriptions fall outside the normal course of professional medicine. Among the indications are:
- Routine prescriptions of Schedule IIs
- No legitimate medical purpose for the prescription
- No physical examination of the patient
- Limited patient interaction
- Insufficient triage
- No psychological counseling
- Group rather than individual patient counseling
- Lack of interdisciplinary approach
- Casual issuance of prescriptions, often by administrative staff
- Acceptance of cash for prescriptions
- Financial arrangement with filling pharmacy
- No prescription monitoring (e.g. drug tests)
- No enforcement of office prescription policies
- No consequences of “lost” prescriptions
- High daily patient volume
The former federal prosecutors and attorneys of Oberheiden, P.C. are available to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation. Call us today and let us identify your options.
Why Clients Choose Oberheiden, P.C.
Clients of Oberheiden, P.C. receive reliable advice and benefit from proven defense strategies. The Firm does not use junior associates or paralegals. All clients have direct access to former Department of Justice prosecutors and senior attorneys with specific experience in healthcare matters. Our attorneys have successfully represented physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and healthcare businesses against government investigations involving criminal conspiracies, healthcare fraud, Anti-Kickback Statute allegations, Tricare Fraud, Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and tax fraud.
Our experience includes:
- More than 1,000 healthcare fraud investigations
- More than 1,000 grand jury investigations
- More than 500 criminal trials
- Dismissal of state and federal indictments
- Avoiding criminal charges in many federal investigations
- More than 70 years of Department of Justice experience
Client representations involve cases relating to Arizona, Colorado, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Alaska, Florida, Washington, New York, Oregon, Michigan, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Whom at Oberheiden, P.C. Should You Contact to Get a Free Consultation?
All clients of Oberheiden, P.C. are represented by experienced healthcare defense attorneys. Among our lawyers are the former chief for healthcare fraud at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, former Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA), former Special Assistant United States Attorneys (SAUSA), former Department of Justice Trial Attorneys, the former Deputy Chief of the Trial Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and other lawyers with specific experience in healthcare law and healthcare fraud defense.
We recognize the importance of each matter and we dedicate our fullest attention to each client. We are available to discuss your concerns in a free and confidential consultation, including on weekends.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founder of Oberheiden P.C., focuses his litigation practice on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, SEC & FCPA enforcement, and commercial litigation.