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IL license defense lawyerHave you recently learned that your medical practice or pharmacy is being audited or investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)? You might have discovered this information by chance or have been informed directly by a DEA agent. Either way, a DEA investigation can be frightening, especially if your livelihood depends on keeping your DEA registration and your professional license. The good news is that our firm is equipped to help healthcare professionals of all types in all types of DEA-related matters.

DEA Tasked With Helping to Manage the Opioid Crisis

Over the last few years, the misuse and abuse of opioid drugs have become major problems throughout the country. In fact, the situation is serious enough that the acting U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in 2017, and health officials began using the word “epidemic” to describe the widespread nature of the crisis. At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 91 per day were dying from opioid overdoses.

As part of the effort to address the crisis, President Trump has utilized federal law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, to play an important role. When it comes to medical practices and pharmacies, the DEA is primarily responsible for ensuring that doctors and pharmacists are prescribing and dispensing controlled substances in accordance with the law and proper clinical guidelines. In most cases, this means investigators are looking for possibly excessive combinations of drugs listed on Schedules II and III by the Controlled Substances Act. If the DEA launches a full-scale investigation, it generally means that there is suspicion of systematic and severe violations.

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IL defense lawyerThe United State’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a federal entity whose main task is to make sure that drugs are being used, sold, manufactured and prescribed correctly and within the confines of the law. One of the ways the DEA accomplishes this is by performing audits and investigations on physicians and their practices. For doctors and their employees, this can be a cause for concern because even a small slip up can become a serious issue. If you have become the subject of a DEA investigation, you should act quickly and immediately hire a medical license defense lawyer.

Understanding DEA Investigations

The DEA routinely conducts audits at the practices of physicians who are permitted to prescribe controlled substances. Typically, you can expect an audit every three years to determine if you are being compliant with all applicable laws. The DEA may also perform an audit if they have reason to believe something illegal may be taking place. This typically begins the investigation process and involves the DEA auditing your patient files. It is possible that the DEA or FBI may also request an interview with you to attempt to gather more information. If they have probable cause to believe that you have not been complying with the Controlled Substance Act, you may also receive a search warrant for your office or practice.

What to Do if You Suspect an Audit or Investigation

If you have been contacted by the DEA or FBI for any reason relating to controlled substances, you should immediately get in touch with a DEA defense lawyer. If the DEA has reached out to you, it probably means they are suspicious of the distribution, use or prescribing of controlled substances from your practice. Your lawyer should immediately begin to look over patient files and records, looking for anything that the DEA might see as a red flag.

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IL license defense lawyerIf you are a healthcare provider that prescribes controlled substances, you are being monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Due to the potential for illegal activity in the pharmacy business, DEA inspectors visit pharmacies to ensure that they are complying with all regulatory standards. If the DEA pays a visit to your pharmacy, it is important to react in a calm and professional manner. Still, a DEA investigation can lead to harsh punishments and even license revocation. If you are facing a DEA investigation, contact a license defense attorney that you can believe in.

Preparing for a DEA Visit

Due to the implementation of the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA is allowed to inspect a pharmacy, investigate the receiving and distribution of controlled substances, and even take substance samples. How you react to a DEA visit can make all the difference in ensuring that the investigation goes smoothly.

Be Respectful: When the DEA arrives at your pharmacy, for an inspection, it is easy to feel attacked, and become flustered. As the inspectors arrive, being kind and respectful can set the investigation off on the right foot. All that considered, it is also important to understand your rights. A DEA inspection can only take place with your consent. If the inspection is not being conducted during standard business hours, or there is not proper personnel on site, you can request for the inspection to take place at a different time.

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Illinois DEA registration defense lawyer 104 formIn light of the current opioid epidemic in the United States, state and federal governments – as well as state boards of pharmacy and medicine – have ramped up their investigations into suspected improper prescribing habits. In particular, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is aggressively reviewing prescription and medical records for pharmacists and physicians who hold DEA registrations.

Increasingly, these DEA registrants are reporting that DEA agents are appearing unannounced at their homes or businesses to interview the registrants and inspect the premises for evidence of wrongdoing. In most cases, the agents then ask the registrants to sign what’s called a 104 Form, whereby the registrant voluntarily surrenders his or her DEA registration. The agents assure the registrant that the surrender is temporary and that he/she can get his/her registration back “in a few weeks” as long as they cooperate with the investigation.

You should not do this without first consulting an attorney.

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Illinois DEA defense lawyerHealthcare providers who work with controlled substances are at an almost constant risk for allegations of drug diversion, unlawful prescribing, or the illegal distribution of a controlled substance. To make matters even worse, these same healthcare professionals often undergo routine audits with the DEA, only to wind up in the middle of an investigation. Thankfully, it is possible to protect your medical license, even if you are in the midst of chaos.

DEA Audits and Inspections

The DEA regularly investigates and audits healthcare providers to ensure they are maintaining compliance with the Controlled Substances Act. This occurs about once every three years but may be more frequent for certain practices. Most often, investigations are done at random. However, specific practices – namely pain management clinics and providers – may be targeted because the agency considers them a “high risk.” A tip or complaint from a pharmacist or patient and discrepancies in prescribing patterns could also lead to an investigation or audit.

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