Prescription Drug Abuse
Federal and state law-enforcement agencies are in the process of ratcheting up their investigation and prosecution of perceived prescription drug abuse. Medical doctors are being targeted for dispensing pain-killing drugs in purportedly unwarranted amounts. Pharmacists are being targeted for filling prescriptions allegedly in conflict with federal regulations. And patients are being targeted for their supposedly excessive use of prescription drugs in the privacy of their own homes.
Attorney David M. Dudley has represented doctors and others investigated and prosecuted for prescription drug abuse. He has also represented a major defendant in the largest federal investigation to date of Internet pharmacies. Especially for those who believe that there is a legitimate basis for their prescription, dispensation, or use of regulated drugs, Mr. Dudley has the superior ability to assert such a basis as a defense to any prosecution.
Targeted Prescription Drugs
Drugs that are heavily monitored by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency are found on lists of substances known as schedules, with schedule I drugs being the most potent, up to schedule V, the least potent. Schedule I drugs have no legal prescription, so the dugs which are usually subject to the most serious prescription drug prosecutions are found on schedules II and III.
Federal drug trafficking penalties for schedule II drugs can range up to 20 years, with a $1 million fine, for a first conviction. Second offenses can carry a 30-year sentence with a $2 Million fine. Schedule III drugs can carry a 10 year sentence and $500,000 fine for the first offense. The following is a list of schedule II drugs that are frequently targeted by federal authorities:
- Oxycontin and Oxycodone — Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid, and Oxycontin is a brand-name, time-released version of the same drug. During 2008, in the U.S. alone, legal sales of Oxycontin sales totaled over $2.5 billion. It remains a prime target of authorities.
- Ritalin (Methylphenidate) — Ritalin is used to combat ADHD and narcolepsy. It is often abused for the stimulant high, and for weight loss purposes.
- Methadone — Methadone is a synthetic narcotic prescribed to help wean addicts off Heroin and treat pain in cancer patients; due to intense pressure on Oxycontin, illegal methadone use is on the rise.
- Codeine — Codeine is a natural opium derivative which in pure form is a schedule II drug. When combined in prescription drugs with acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen it is schedule III.
- Hydrocodone — Hydrocodone in pure form is a schedule II drug, when combined with acetaminophen it is a schedule III drug called Vicodin.
If you are being investigated for prescription drug abuse, Mr. Dudley can provide you with experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. For more information, or to schedule an evaluation of your case, contact our law office today.
Prescription Drug Abuse Case Results
- P. v. C.R.: A patrol officer observed the defendant sleeping on the steering wheel of his car which was parked illegally at an intersection with the engine running in the middle of the day. A search of the car and the defendant’s home revealed large quantities of various types of drugs, including substances requiring a prescription for lawful possession. Unfortunately, the defendant had no such prescription. The defendant was charged with several counts of possessing controlled substances for the purpose of distribution. Attorney Dudley was able to negotiate a deal under which the defendant was sentenced to PROBATION for the various drug offenses.
- P v. C.S.: The defendant was arrested with a package containing many bottles of prescription cough syrup. He had no prescription for those substances and there was no medical necessity for him having such a large quantity of cough syrup. After the defendant was charged with possessing a controlled substance for distribution, Attorney Dudley worked out a plea bargain under which the defendant received a term of PROBATION.
- U.S. v. C.D.: Federal authorities arrested a medical doctor for selling opiate prescriptions, as well as blank triplicate prescription forms. Although the doctor faced over 20 years in prison under the applicable sentencing guidelines—and violated his conditions of release while out on bail—Attorney Dudley’s medical necessity strategy eventually resulted in the defendant reaching a disposition under which he served less than four years in prison.
- U.S. v. S.P.: The defendant performed almost all the credit card processing for several of the largest internet pharmacies in the world. Consequently, the federal government indicted him for conspiracy to distribute huge amounts of controlled substances requiring a valid prescription—alleging that the prescriptions obtained by those internet enterprises were essentially bogus-- and to engage in millions of dollars in money laundering. Because of the directions he provided to some of the internet marketers, the government considered the defendant to be a leader of those conspiracies. Although the defendant was facing 15 to 20 years in prison for his role in the offense, Attorney Dudley was able to obtain an offer to settle the case for only 30 months.