Representing New York Pharmacists
Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC is a premier New York law firm that provides a broad spectrum of legal services to license pharmacists and pharmacy owners. We are often called upon to represent clients charged with pharmaceutical fraud, prescription fraud, Insurance fraud, Medicaid and Medicare audits, OMIG Medicaid exclusions, and professional license defense before the Office of Professional Discipline.
Professional License Defense for Pharmacists
Our attorneys successfully represented a number of New York pharmacists in all licensing and registration matters pending before the State Education Department, Office of Professional Discipline (OPD), the Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG), and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).
Earning your license was a significant investment of time and money and when your Pharmaceutical License is on the line, you should protect it by consulting with an experienced New York or professional license defense attorney skilled in representing pharmacists in criminal and disciplinary proceedings. Our firm’s main focus is serving licensed professionals in New York, particularly pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals, in all matters that relate to professional licensing and license defense.
In New York and practice of pharmacy is governed by numerous laws and regulations. In New York, pharmacists are licensed and registered by The New York State Board of Regents, the Education Department, and the State Board of Pharmacy.
If you are arrested or investigated by law enforcement or if you are contacted by a state licensing agency investigator regarding a complaint involving professional misconduct, you may significantly minimize damages to your case by discussing it with an experienced New York pharmacy license defense attorney.
When Is A Pharmacist Subject To Discipline?
In New York and practice of pharmacy is governed by numerous laws and regulations. Pharmacists are licensed and registered by The New York State Board of Regents, the Education Department, and the State Board of Pharmacy. Committing professional misconduct as specified by the statute automatically subjects the pharmacist to discipline.
The most common triggers of professional discipline of pharmacists in New York are:
- Being convicted of a crime
- Practicing fraudulently
- Practicing beyond the authorized scope of practice
- Practicing with gross incompetence or negligence
- Practicing while being intoxicated or impaired by alcohol, drugs, or mental disability
- Habitually using drugs
- Unlawful fee splitting
- Allowing professional duties to be performed by unauthorized persons
- Sexually or physically abusing patients
- Filing false reports
- Failing to maintain proper records
- Ordering excessive and unnecessary tests
There are several ways a disciplinary process against a New York pharmacist may begin. Pharmacies are often subject to law enforcement investigations related to Medicaid and Medicare fraud, schemes involving unauthorized prescription and controlled substances.
Pharmacists may either become the focus of the ongoing investigation or newly discovered facts will trigger a separate investigation of a pharmacist. Also, a compliant by a third part may be filed with the Regional Office of Professional Discipline (OPD), which will then look into the allegations.
A criminal conviction or entering a guilty plea will automatically be reported to the licensing agency and an investigation will be automatically initiated.
During the course of investigation, the licensee may be contacted by an OPD or a law enforcement investigator. The law requires the licensee to cooperate with investigation; however one has no obligation to forfeit his or her right to consult with an attorney. The only correct way to handle the investigator’s request for an interview is to pledge cooperation but only after consulting an attorney.
Your next step must be retaining an attorney experienced in the OPD actions. A good criminal defense or professional license defense attorney will prevent you from making potentially harmful statements and admissions that would seriously impede your future defense.
Contact our office immediately before providing any information or discussing the case with anyone.
NY CRIMINAL DEFENSE FOR PHARMACISTS
We routinely defend our pharmacist clients in criminal cases brought by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the District Attorney’s Office. Pharmaceutical crimes vary from federal kickback violations, to Medicare and Medicaid fraudulent billing practices, to artificial drug price inflation to offenses often charged on state level such as prescription fraud. Whatever the charges are, if you are the target of an audit or a criminal investigation related to pharmaceutical activity, you need an attorney experienced in defending pharmaceutical fraud cases. And if you are a medical professional, your attorney should also be experienced in representing licensed health care professionals because your professional license is in jeopardy.
Here is the list of criminal cases involving pharmacists, which handle:
- Prescription Fraud
- Criminal diversion of medication
- Anti-kickback laws violations;
- Medicaid and Medicare Fraud
- Insurance Fraud
We are also experienced in dealing with the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations that routinely investigates violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Federal Anti-Tampering Act, and other related federal statutes. Most common federal violations in the pharmaceutical industry are:
- Manufacture and sale of counterfeit or unapproved drugs
- Illegal diversion of drugs
- Prescription Drug Marketing Act violations
- Off-Label promotion Illegal Internet Drug Marketing
- Drug application fraud
- Clinical investigator fraud
- Product substitution crimes
- Product tampering
- Drug adulteration
- Illegal drug importation
- Illegal drug manufacture, sale or distribution
Medicaid/Medicare/Insurance Fraud in a Pharmacy Setting
We have been called on defending licensed pharmacists and pharmacy owners who have been accused of Medicaid or Medicare fraud. Most such cases involve billing Medicaid or insurance companies for prescription medications that have never been dispensed to patients or schemes involving purchasing prescriptions from Medicaid beneficiaries for cash and billing Medicaid for reimbursement at higher rates.
This is often done in concert with physicians who write the prescriptions in return for kickbacks from pharmacists. These types of cases are likely to be prosecuted by the federal government.
Pharmacy fraud is a crime that may render a person liable to severe legal penalties. When the fraud involves sales and distribution over state lines, the federal government will likely become involved, and the case will be prosecuted in federal court.
When the pharmacy fraud is alleged to have taken place as part of a massive scheme, and the proceeds are alleged to be high, the potential consequences will be harsh.
Online pharmacy fraud
One kind of pharmacy fraud that takes place and is vigorously prosecuted occurs when pharmacists and doctors team up with website operators, or operate websites in order to sell large quantities of sought-after substances such as painkillers, without valid prescriptions.
The websites allow customers to order pain medications without valid prescriptions. The doctors who are participating in the scheme write prescriptions to fit the orders, without ever speaking to or examining the customer, and without looking at the customer’s medical records. They then send the prescriptions to participating pharmacists, who fill the illegal prescriptions and ship the medications to the customers. Sometimes, the websites may contain false statements, such as postings stating that prescription medications will not be dispensed before the customer consults the website’s licensed physician when such consultations never actually take place.
Since such fraud takes place over the Internet, its reach tends to be wider and more encompassing; thus, setting up a website for pharmacy fraud is, in itself, more likely to result in a federal case and in allegations of a far-reaching scheme or conspiracy. Further, when the substances involved are ?controlled substances,? charges will likely include drug trafficking as well.
When an internet pharmacy fraud scheme is alleged, charges may include the following: misbranding of prescription drugs, narcotics distribution, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit all and any of the above. Penalties can include decades in prison, as well as possible forfeitures and other financial losses. Any doctor or pharmacist involved is also risking their license.
If you are accused of participating in the Internet pharmacy fraud in New York City, your first step should be to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney, with special knowledge of pharmacy fraud issues. You should be aware that the allegations of a scheme or conspiracy mean that you can be potentially held liable for the actions of other participants in the scheme.
To learn more, call our experienced NYC criminal defense attorneys at (212) 577-6677 to schedule an immediate consultation.