Blog

Can the Sudden Rise in Certain Prescription Drug Requests from the Coronavirus Come from Prescription Fraud?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

As the coronavirus spreads, we're going to see more and more repercussions that we might not have been expecting. One of them is prescription drug fraud. This white collar crime is prosecuted at both the state and federal level, and can be a felony – especially if the defendant is a doctor.

Coronavirus Leading to Spikes in Demand for Off-Label Drugs

The chain of events is not especially surprising: As the number of deaths and confirmed cases from the coronavirus goes up, people are getting more and more anxious for their health and safety. They begin looking for drugs that they can take to immunize themselves from the virus, or to stockpile in their medicine cabinets, in case they get infected with COVID-19.

But then President Trump touted several unproven drugs – hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine – as “miracles” in coronavirus treatment, and the media picked up the call.

Suddenly, these drugs are flying off the shelves in pharmacies as doctors prescribe them for patients – and even for themselves and their families. The spike in demand has been so extreme that people who rely on these drugs to treat the medical conditions that the drugs have been designed and approved to treat – lupus, autoimmune disease, and rheumatoid arthritis – are now having trouble getting their prescriptions filled.

Whether driven by patients or doctors, much of that increased demand can potentially be prescription drug fraud.

How Patients Can Commit Prescription Drug Fraud

Under 35 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 780-113(a)(12), people who receive a controlled substance, including certain prescription medications, can commit prescription drug fraud if they get the drugs through:

  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Deception
  • Subterfuge

While this does not prohibit patient from asking a doctor to prescribe them certain types of pills – most prescription drug commercials urge patients to do just that – it does forbid patients from stealing drugs or faking injuries or medical conditions in order to get them. This includes impersonating a doctor while trying to get a prescription filled or forging your own prescription order.

While neither hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine is a controlled substance, fraudulently obtaining either can lead to other charges based on the methods used to get them.

Doctors Can Also Commit Prescription Fraud

Doctors, meanwhile, can be convicted for prescription fraud whenever they prescribe medication without a legitimate medical purpose.

The penalties for prescription fraud by a doctor are not limited to the criminal sanctions, like a fine and jail time. They can also lose their medical license, their practice, and their prescription-writing power even before the charge or investigation has been resolved. If convicted, they could also have to pay restitution if they charged Medicare or Medicaid for the drugs.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia

Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who serves people in Philadelphia who have been accused of white-collar crimes like prescription drug fraud – as well as the host of attendant offenses that frequently come with one of these charges.

Contact him online or call his law office at (215) 535-5353 for the legal help you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience fighting for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, as well as New Jersey. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being.

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

Menu