Bad Medicine: Prescription Drug Crimes in Indiana
Prescription Drug Abuse Is a Serious Public Health Concern
Prescription drug abuse is growing at alarming levels across the United States. Indiana has the 17th highest drug overdose death rate in the country. Deaths resulting from prescription drug use outnumber heroin and cocaine deaths combined. Prescription drug use and abuse costs the country approximately $53.4 billion annually in lost productivity, medical expenses and criminal prosecution costs.
While medication can be beneficial if not life-saving when used properly, it can be just as dangerous and deadly as street drugs when abused. As a result, Indiana law imposes strict penalties on individuals who illegally use and distribute prescription drugs.
The purpose of these laws is not only to deter people from misusing prescription medication but also to stop people from using the ingredients they contain to manufacture and sell additional controlled substances. Specifically, it is a crime to distribute prescribed medication unless you are a licensed physician engaged in the practice of lawfully dispensing medicine. In Indiana, prosecutors are aggressively pursuing prescription drug cases.
Commonly Abused Drugs
As prescription drug abuse has become more common, so too have the medications involved. Health care personnel and law enforcement officers generally classify these drugs into three groups: opioids, stimulants, and depressants.
Opioids block pain by preventing the brain from receiving pain signals from the rest of the body. Because they interfere with the body’s ability to feel discomfort, they are a prime target for misuse. In most cases, they are also highly habit forming. Common opioids include codeine, Vicodin, Percocet, and oxycontin.
As their name suggests, stimulants cause the individual to feel more alert and aware. Popular stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin.
Finally, depressants help individuals who suffer from insomnia, anxiety, and a host of other ailments. Depressants include Ambien, valium, and Xanax.
Prescription Drug Fraud is a Serious Offense
Indiana law characterizes most offenses involving prescription drugs as “Prescription Drug Fraud.” Prescription drug fraud occurs when a person forges or tampers with a prescription, prescribes or obtains drugs under fraudulent circumstances, uses a stolen prescription pad, steals another person’s identity to seek prescription drugs or impersonates medical personnel.
Prescription drug fraud is treated as a Class D felony, punishable by six months to three years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. If the offender has a prior conviction for prescription drug fraud, the crime is treated as a Class C felony, with a penalty of two to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Beginning July 1, 2014, prescription drug fraud will be treated as a level 6 or 5 felony.
Additionally, the Indiana Legislature passed a new law effective December 2013 which requires the Indiana Medical Licensing Board to develop an emergency opioid prescribing rule. Under the emergency rule, doctors must perform certain protocols when prescribing pain medication or face licensure actions or criminal prosecution. The protocols include performing drug monitoring tests, conducting face-to-face reviews of the patient treatment plan, and entering treatment agreements with patients.
Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney John Razumich Can Defend You in Your Drug Case
Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer John Razumich provides aggressive defense against the full range of criminal charges, including prescription drug-related offenses. If you have been charged with violating Indiana’s prescription drug laws, Mr. Razumich will fight for you every step of the way and work with prosecutors to get the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
This website has been prepared by John Razumich, Attorney at Law for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.