Every pharmacist knows that the federal Controlled Substances Act generally makes it illegal to sell scheduled pharmaceuticals without a pharmacy license, together with an authorizing prescription. The cases of pharmacists running outright scams selling millions of prescription pills, or making millions selling prescription cough syrup are notorious. What some pharmacists don't realize until it's too late, though, is that the circumstances of a so-called drug sale can be ambiguous, leaving a license discipline trap for the honest but unwary pharmacist. The Controlled Substances Act's definitions section 21 USC 802 uses broadly and vaguely defined terms like “deliver” and “dispense” to regulate much more than an outright sale for cash. Nearly any transfer of scheduled drugs to another could qualify as an unlawful drug sale if made without the necessary prescription. The earnest pharmacist caught in allegations of illegal prescription drug sales faces two high-risk proceedings.
Federal Criminal Charges
The pharmacist's first risk is that prosecutors will pursue criminal charges. You may not have heard from any FBI agents or state or local police regarding your pharmacy practice. You may only have heard the gossip or concerns of customers, competitors, or colleagues that you made one or more illegal prescription drug sales. You may not anticipate federal criminal charges. Yet the prospect of criminal charges can still affect a lot else that the accused pharmacist and the pharmacist's retained attorney will do. You should, for instance, expect to devote every available resource to your defense of those potential charges. Criminal charges substantially raise the stakes by creating a risk of conviction and incarceration. A pharmacist accused of a crime also has a privilege against self-incrimination. Your retained attorney must help you navigate the critical question of with whom to speak, what to say, and when and where to say it to preserve that privilege.
Professional License Defense
The other proceeding the earnest pharmacist accused of illegally selling prescription drugs faces is the professional license proceeding. Yes, criminal charges are very serious. But so, too, are disciplinary actions against a pharmacist's license. You cannot practice your pharmacy profession without that license. Losing your license in one state risks not getting a license in another state, meaning that you have all the more incentive to retain a skilled attorney to get the original charges dismissed or reduced. You have a great deal at stake in the investigatory and adjudicatory process of your license proceeding. How you and your retained license defense attorney approach that license proceeding, though, may be very different from criminal court defense. License proceedings are administrative in nature, not judicial. They are also professional proceedings, serious, to be sure, but not nearly so adversarial as a criminal proceeding. Recognize the twin risks of unlawful sale of prescription drugs, and recognize their differences.
Skilled and Experienced Defense Representation - The Lento Law Firm
Professional license defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has substantial skill and experience in both criminal defense and professional license defense, combining the special skills necessary for defending the license of a pharmacist accused of illegal sale of prescriptions. Attorney Lento is not only a premier license defense attorney but also has the strong skills for your vigorous criminal defense. Attorney Lento also knows how one proceeding can affect the other, so that he can coordinate both defenses for you. If you are facing accusations or investigations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York, retain a preeminent license defense attorney who can also provide you with outstanding criminal defense. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 or go online.
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