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Multiple States Move to Enact New Laws Related to Controlled Substances

Lance Leider headshotBy Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

In reports from both coasts, three states have recently made moves to tighten monitoring and prescribing of controlled substances. Legislators in California, Pennsylvania and Kentucky are contemplating new actions. Health professionals should take note, these prescription drug monitoring programs can, and will be, used as a prosecution tool.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs by State.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California is looking to utilize its prescription drug monitoring program CURES to find physicians who are a little too loose with the prescription pad. Lawmakers are contemplating mining the data compiled by CURES to find physicians who are overprescribing and take action against them. Click here to read the entire Los Angeles Times article.

The Pennsylvania house recently forwarded a bill from committee to the floor for a final vote. The bill would establish a monitoring program like those in California, Florida and Kentucky. This monitoring program would be used to combat abuse and doctor shopping by identifying patients that have already received an adequate supply of medications.

Kentucky, already the home of some tough prescription drug laws, is looking to fine tune its regulatory scheme. According to The Courier-Journal, the new bill would clarify existing regulations by providing medical exemptions for patients that would otherwise be wrapped up in the enforcement provisions. To learn more on the proposed changes to Kentucky’s prescription drug laws, click here.

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide from Prescription Drug Monitoring.

Lawmakers in all three states cited laws and regulations from other states as inspiration for the moves to consider new laws to monitor prescriptions of controlled substances. What this means is that whatever state you may be in, you should be aware that lawmakers are looking around the country at what works and are implementing similar programs and laws in their governments.

Are Databases Just a Tool for Prosecution?

Enforcement of drug laws and prescribing regulations has been ever increasing in recent years. The implementation of these databases and corresponding regulations are going to provide more tools for law enforcement and state medical boards to crack down on physicians. In order to avoid trouble it is crucial that you take time to review your state’s prescribing and record keeping laws with an experienced health care attorney.

From experience, we have seen the database in Florida used mostly as a tool for prosecution of pain management physicians and pharmacists. Even in cases where the pharmacist has been the one to notify the authorities of suspected forged prescriptions and where the pharmacist has cooperated in prosecuting the criminals, I have seen this database cited as evidence against him or her. I do not believe this is what the legislation intended. Physicians and pharmacists should consider using whatever database is implemented in their respective states, or otherwise remaining vigilant to avoid being labeled an overprescriber.

To read legal tips to manage pain patients, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Does the state where you are located have a prescription drug monitoring program? Is it similar to any of programs we mentioned in this blog? What do you think of these programs? Are they necessary? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Girion, Lisa and Glover, Scott. “Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris Urges Funding for Prescription Tracking.” Los Angeles Times. (March 3, 2013). From: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/03/attorney-general-kamala-harris-funding-prescription-database-.html

Wynn, Mike. “Kentucky Legislature Overhauls Prescription Drug Law.” The Courier-Journal. (March 4, 2013). From: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303040093&nclick_check=1

Associated Press. “Lawmakers Mull Prescription Drug Monitoring.” Associated Press. (March 4, 2013). From: http://meadvilletribune.com/local/x986702017/Lawmakers-mull-prescription-drug-monitoring

About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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Recent Changes to Florida’s Pain Management Laws

If you are a pain management physician, it is important for you to be aware of changes in the laws governing the practice of pain management. The following laws were updated this summer, so the Florida Department of Health (DOH) will be enforcing these changes, including new penalities for inappropriate prescribing and new regulations for prescribing controlled substances.

  1. Minimum penalties for inappropriate prescribing for licensed health professionals – six (6) month suspension and $10,000 fine per count.  “Inappropriate prescribing” is in new Section 456.44, Florida Statutes.
  2. Effective January 1, 2012, every physician prescribing controlled substances must designate himself or herself as a controlled substance prescribing practitioner on the physician’s profile maintained by the Florida Department of Health.
  3. Effective July 1, 2011, new required elements must be documented in medical records of each pain management patient and there are new Standards of Practice for pain management physicians.
  4. Effective July 1, 2011, each physician practicing in a pain management clinic must notify the Florida Board of Medicine within 10 days after beginning or ending practice at the pain management clinic.
  5. Effective July 1, 2011, each physician practicing in a pain management clinic is personally responsible for the clinic’s compliance with all operational requirements. 
  6. Effective July 1, 2011, each pain management clinic must report to the Department of Health:
      a.  the number of new and repeat patients;
      b.  the number of patients discharged due to drug abuse;
      c.  the number of patients discharged due to diversion; and
      d.  the number of patients who live outside Florida.
  7. Effective July 1, 2011, dispensing physicians are no longer authorized to dispense Schedule II and Schedule III controlled substances. 
  8. Dispensing physicians must return all Schedule II and Schedule III controlled substances to the distributors or dispose of them by July 10, 2011.
  9. The Florida Department of Health will identify dispensing practitioners who purchase more than an average of 2,000 doses of Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances per month and decide which of these practitioners poses the greatest risk to the public health. (We expect that individuals will be targeted by criminal law enforcement authorities, including the DEA, based on these reports.)
  10. Three days after the effective date, the Department of Health and Law Enforcement will enter the businesses of all dispensing practitioners identified as posing the greatest threat to public health and ‘quarantine’ the practitioner’s inventory of Schedule II and Schedule III controlled substances.

If you are concerned about your pain management clinic, or if you are a pain management physician who has been subjected to raids or other investigations call us at (407) 331-6620 0r (850) 439-1001 or visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.