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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16236
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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hi i have a friend who goes to different doctors to get prescriptions

Resolved Question:

hi i have a friend who goes to different doctors to get prescriptions for a controlled substance (generic ambien). he then goes to different pharmacies to get them filled. they are all legit rx's. he just cant sleep and needs multiple pills to fall asleep.

my questions are, is this illegal? what law specifically does it break? what is the punishment for this?

does new york state have a central database to monitor rx drugs? do all pharmacies participate in this? how stringent are cops when it comes to prosecuting and investigation?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello Jacustomer,

This is called doctor shopping and it can be prosecuted a criminal offense. It occurs when you withhold information from a doctor as to what other doctors you are seeing and what they have prescribed for you, so that you can get a hold of more of a particular medication than any one doctor would ever give you a lawful prescription for. Here's the law below:

Public Health Law § 3397. Fraud and deceit.

1. No person shall:

(a) obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance, a prescription for a controlled
substance or an official New York State prescription form,

(i) by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge; or
(ii) by the concealment of a material fact; or
(iii) by the use of a false name or the giving of a false address;
(b) willfully make a false statement in any prescription, order, application, report or record required by this article;
(c) falsely assume the title of, or represent himself to be a licensed manufacturer,
distributor, pharmacy, pharmacist, practitioner, researcher, approved institutional
dispenser, or other authorized person, for the purpose of obtaining a controlled substance;
(d) make or utter any false or forged prescription or false or forged written order;
(e) affix any false or forged label to a package or receptacle containing controlled
substances; or
(f) imprint on or affix to any controlled substance a false or forged code number or symbol.

2. Possession of a false or forged prescription for a controlled substance by any person other than a pharmacist in the lawful pursuance of his profession shall be presumptive evidence of his intent to use the same for the purpose of illegally obtaining a controlled substance.

3. Possession of a blank official New York state prescription form by any person to whom it was not lawfully issued shall be presumptive evidence of such person's intent to use same for the purpose of illegally obtaining a controlled substance.

4. Any person who, in the course of treatment, is supplied with a controlled substance or a prescription therefor by one practitioner and who, without disclosing the fact, is supplied during such treatment with a controlled substance
or a prescription therefor by another practitioner shall be guilty of a violation of this article.

It would appear that certain prescriptions in New York MUST be filled electronically and thus would appear in a statewide data base. You can read more about this here. (see link) As far as other prescriptions the state wisely does not publish which pharmacies are non-participating and which are not.

As a general rule, if caught, the pharmacist will simply refuse to fill the subscription, send you away, and alert the doctor who will cut off that part of the supply. I can't say that a fact pattern like yours has never been prosecuted, but I can say that the ones I have seen in court involve forged prescriptions or possession of controlled substances in amounts in excess of personal use supplies.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

thank you. can you clarify what "substances in amounts in excess of personal use supplies" means?


 


can you also clarify the answers to my original questions-


my questions are, is this illegal? what law specifically does it break? what is the punishment for this?

does new york state have a central database to monitor rx drugs? do all pharmacies participate in this? how stringent are cops when it comes to prosecuting and investigation?


 


should my friend be worried?


 


 

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello Carrie,

If nobody has said anything to your friend, he or she should not be worried yet. But he ought to get himself some help ASAP to get rid of his drug dependency before the state does find and report him. It is getting increasingly hard to pull this off and it does get prosecuted.

Yes, there is a state data base -- I linked you to that -- and many states voluntarily share information, so we're moving in the direction of a national data base. All NYS pharmacies are required to fill these prescriptions electronicaly.

Controlled substances can only be had in a 30 day supply. If he has more than a 30 day supply he can be charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance. That's what I meant by having more than what's available for personal use. You are not allowed to stockpile these. The doctor shopping law which I already quoted you -- see section 4 -- allows for the possession to be prosecuted criminally.

Yes, it's illegal. Outside of the Health Law above, this could proceed as a drug diversion fraud which would be an A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail, but could also proceed along the lines of a drug possession case.(look at section 4 of the law I cited in my first answer). Precisely how serious a drug case would depend upon how many pills were illegally possessed and the weight of the controlled substance possessed.

Either way, although prison is possible, the system will see this as a drug addiction problem. He'd likely be offered probation with Drug Treatment Court, which would give him professional treatment to wean off of the medication and something less harmful which would help him sleep without breaking the law. Additionally it would allow him to come out of this case without getting a criminal record.

Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16236
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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