PAINKILLER LAW: Red Ribbon Week Is About Prevention, Not Prosecution

This week has been Red Ribbon Week, the nationally observed period devoted to substance abuse prevention, and originally dedicated to the memory of slain U.S. DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was murdered by a Mexican drug cartel in 1985. During Red Ribbon Week, kids and adults across the country wear a red ribbon to make a public statement about staying away from drugs, and to honor U.S. law enforcement agents who have been killed in the line of duty. But this week’s message from the White House Drug Czar should send shivers down the spine of any healthcare provider writing for prescription painkillers. Here’s why:

If you are a healthcare provider writing prescriptions for Schedule II through I painkillers, you normally needn’t think that the memory of Kiki Camarena would impact how law enforcement views you. After all, Camarena, a tough and experienced D.E.A. agent stationed in Guadalajara in the 1980′s and investigating a vast drug trafficking conspiracy reaching into the Mexican government and Army, was going after serious criminals – not your neighborhood internist or local urgent care provider. Kiki’s targets were cocaine, heroin, and big shipments of marijuana – not legitimate prescriptions written lawfully by licensed professionals. His cover was betrayed, he was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and murdered by vicious criminals, some of whom later stood trial in the United States. None of this should have anything to do with the average healthcare practitioner’s life, beyond respectfully remembering Camarena’s bravery, courage and sacrifice.

But in today’s hyper-aggressive investigative environment, with the Feds waxing on about “dope dealers with a medical license,” the line between legitimate providers and illicit traffickers is purposely being muddled by law enforcement in the name of “going after” prescription drug abuse. Look no further than the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy this past week, when its director took to YouTube and urged people observing Red Ribbon Week to bear in mind the new scourges of “teenage alcohol abuse, and prescription drug abuse.” His good faith statement about drug abuse prevention is quickly belied by the bellicose and over-the-top language used by the law enforcement agencies now under pressure to “crack down” by investigating, prosecuting or initiating administrative/licensing proceedings against healthcare providers. In an atmosphere of hysteria, which will only get worse, healthcare providers must protect themselves from government abuse undertaken in the name of stopping drug abuse.

PAINKILLER LAW: CRIMINAL LAW COMPLIANCE FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, is here to help. PAINKILLER LAW is a comprehensive service of the Meister Law Offices, and is the industry pioneer and leader in criminal law compliance for providers writing painkiller prescriptions. Don’t be lulled into thinking you will never face DEA or Medical Board scrutiny for your prescription writing. And don’t bury your head in the sand hoping nothing will happen the next time a patient makes a bogus complaint about something you did relating to a pain prescription. Call us today at 213.293.3737, or write us at info@painkillerlaw.com for a free consultation. It’s good preventative medicine.

Read More

PAINKILLER LAW: New Drug Control Policy; Caution Urged for Prescription Painkiller Providers

Prevention and treatment of drug abuse are the new watchwords of today’s newly released National Drug Control Strategy, published by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  While the government wants to find a workable balance between what it calls the “enforcement-centric war on drugs and the extreme position of legalization,” the MD’s, DO’s and PA’s who write prescriptions for painkillers should only expect continued and increasing government scrutiny.

I say this because the ONDCP’s emphasis on prevention and treatment is directed at the user, not the person who provides the drug to the user.  And while the ONDCP discussion largely focuses on the market for illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, the government continually talks of the perceived epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.  The focus of government agencies like the FDA, DEA, state Medical Boards and local law enforcement is on doctors and physician’s assistants who write prescriptions for controlled substances.  Just today, in fact, the DEA raided (for the second time in several months) a Jupiter, FL Walgreens distribution center, on the theory that Walgreens may be diverting or at least failing to keep track of mass quantities of oxydocone and other opioid derivatives.  Walgreens maintains it is cooperating with federal authorities in the matter.

The lesson from these two stories is that while the end-user, in your case the patient, may benefit from the White House’s new policy imperatives, the healthcare provider writing the Schedule II painkiller prescription will continue to be under the government’s watchful eye.  Now more than at any time in memory, provider compliance with federal and state criminal laws governing the prescription and dispensing of prescription painkillers is critical to the survival of any medical practice.  The range and depth of laws to comply with is formidable, and obtaining competent and thorough legal advice on the matter is highly advisable.

Contact PAINKILLER LAW – the Meister Law Offices – at 213.293.3737 for a free consultation about Criminal Law Compliance for Healthcare Providers.  Or, email us at info@painkillerlaw.com

Read More