As a pharmacist, whether you own your business, or work for an independent pharmacy or a large chain, you are a highly trusted – and from the law’s standpoint, a highly regulated – professional. State Boards of Pharmacy license you and govern your conduct on the job, and so, of course, do the D.E.A. and the F.D.A. Not only are you obligated to fill prescriptions accurately, but you are also required to exercise independent judgment about the prescriptions. You are a patient’s advocate and watchdog, in a very critical sense.
And these days, the government in turn is watching you, perhaps very closely. When criminal courts in most counties across the country talk about “drug diversion,” they are referring to counseling and rehabilitation programs designed for first-time drug offenders.
In the pharmacy context, “drug diversion” means something entirely different: It refers to the phenomenon of some pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors “diverting” stocks of prescription painkillers and pain medication to the black market, to street dealers, for illegal profit. As you may know, huge pharmacy chains have had their distribution centers raided by the D.E.A. over concerns about diversion; large pharmaceutical distribution companies have been severely sanctioned and their businesses severely hurt in the wake of investigations into diversion or poor tracking of quantities of Schedule II narcotics.
The degree of investigative attention being paid at the manufacturer and major distributor levels is high, but there is plenty left over for independent pharmacies, and individual pharmacists, to be under the government’s scope right now. Pharmacists are being scrutinized, openly investigated, charged, prosecuted, and administratively sanctioned for suspected diversion, for refilling prescriptions at a rate the government thinks is too often, or for not acting on supposed signs of drug seeking behavior.
Pharmacists need to protect themselves and their businesses from being defined by the government as “part of the problem.” The way to protect yourself and the best chance you have of ultimately prevailing in saving your business, keeping your reputation and license, and sustaining your livelihood is to be prepared on the front-end.
The key is compliance. From D.E.A. and F.D.A. regulations and federal law, to standards of ethics and practice set by your state Board of Pharmacy, to ongoing training on how to know what patients are doing once you hand over the medication, the Meister Law Offices can help you obtain and maintain a state of full compliance with the criminal law governing your store and work.
While pharmacy is science, criminal law compliance is not, and law enforcement’s interpretation of your business practices can be very subjective. Our firm can show you not only what the law requires, but how to most effectively translate that into best practices, and help show anyone scrutinizing you that yours is a business deserving of high praise for its cultural and operational adherence to the law.
Call the Meister Law Offices today at 213.293.3737 for a free consultation.