DISPENSING CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

Healthcare Law: Actions Against Healthcare Workers

A practitioner commits a criminal offense if he or she unlawfully dispenses a controlled substance. A practitioner is a physician, a dentist, a veterinarian, a pharmacist, or any other person who is permitted to use controlled substances in his or her profession. Dispensing is the transfer or delivery of a controlled substance by a practitioner.

A practitioner unlawfully dispenses a controlled substance by delivering the controlled substance without an oral or a written prescription, by refilling a prescription that has no refills, or by filling a prescription after it has expired.

A practitioner may only prescribe, administer, or dispense a controlled substance for a valid medical purpose, which purpose must be in the course of his or her professional practice. A physician unlawfully dispenses a controlled substance if he or she does not have a doctor-patient relationship with the person to whom the controlled substance is dispensed. A pharmacist unlawfully dispenses a controlled substance if there is no valid prescription. A pharmacist also unlawfully dispenses a controlled substance if he or she delivers a controlled substance to someone other than the person for whom the controlled substance is prescribed or delivers the controlled substance to someone who is not authorized to accept the prescription. A pharmacist also commits a criminal offense by refilling a prescription without authorization or by failing to retain an original prescription.

A practitioner also commits a criminal offense if he or she prescribes or dispenses an anabolic steroid or a growth hormone without a valid medical purpose, which purpose is not in the course of his or her professional practice.

Even if a practitioner is not guilty of unlawfully dispensing a controlled substance, the practitioner may be subject to prosecution for delivering the controlled substance.

The offense of unlawfully dispensing a controlled substance may be a misdemeanor or a felony. The classification of the offense and the punishment for the offense generally depend upon whether it is a practitioner’s first offense or whether the practitioner has previously been convicted of the same offense.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.