Pharmacy License Defense Attorneys
Becoming a licensed pharmacist takes a lot of hard work and ongoing diligence. The increase in regulations by the DEA and Board of Pharmacy over the past several years has likewise increased on-the-job stress. The rise in regulations has brought about a related rise in disciplinary actions and criminal allegations, leaving many licensed pharmacists worried they may one day lose their license, job or even their freedom.
The healthcare lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group recognize and understand this, which is why we make it our business to represent and defend pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies. We’ve helped many licensed healthcare professionals protect and retain their license when faced with matters before the Board of Pharmacy, Department of Health, DEA, LARA and local courts.
Pharmacist Licensure Matters
Licensed pharmacists may find themselves facing a number of different issues that can affect their license. These can include:
- Administrative complaints
- Hearings and disciplinary actions before the Board of Pharmacy
- Pharmacy audits, inspections and investigations from federal, state and local agencies
- Criminal allegations and convictions
- Overpayment and fraud allegations
- Violation of pharmacy regulations and rules
- Improper prescription filling
- License suspensions and revocations
- DUI, substance abuse, PRN, HPRP
- Drug diversion
- Applications, appeals, renewals, reinstatement and other licensure issues
- Pharmacy permits, contracts and start-ups
Investigations from the Board of Pharmacy
While investigations by the state or Board of Pharmacy are serious matters, pharmacists may avoid formal action against their licenses if they’re properly handled in a timely manner. Investigative processes typically begin when a complaint is filed with the state Department of Health, LARA or Board of Pharmacy. Complaints are generally made by employers, colleagues, customers or even disgruntled friends or family members.
Once a complaint is filed, a state investigator is assigned to conduct a preliminary investigation before any formal action is taken. Licensed pharmacists are usually alerted of a complaint when they receive a letter from the investigator requesting a meeting.
Speaking with an investigator without consulting with an attorney can backfire. While pharmacists may schedule a meeting in the hopes of clearing up the situation, statements they share are often later used against them. State agencies are dedicated to protecting the public, while the legal team at Norman Spencer Law Group is dedicated to protecting the licenses, rights and careers of licensed healthcare professionals.
If you become aware of an investigation into your conduct, contacting one of our attorneys is a wise move. Hiring a qualified lawyer at the onset of investigation can often resolve the issue before it moves forward into a formal complaint with formal action being taken.
Pharmacy License Complaint Process
Once an investigation is complete, the Board of Pharmacy (BOP) reviews the case to decide if enough evidence exists to file a formal complaint. If the investigation doesn’t reveal a violation of the public health code or probable cause, the case is dropped. If it does reveal a violation or probable cause, the BOP files an administrative complaint.
If the administrative complaint aims to revoke a license or discipline a pharmacist, the pharmacists has the right to request a hearing. Hearings give pharmacists a chance to be heard before final action is taken, and they can have a huge impact on the outcome. Requesting a hearing needs to be done within 21 days of receiving the administrative complaint or the right to a hearing is waived.
We urge pharmacists to contact one of our experienced healthcare law attorneys the moment they receive an administrative complaint. We’re here to defend your rights and discuss your options.
Board of Pharmacy Hearings
Pharmacists often have the option of requesting one of two types of hearings: an informal or formal hearing. Informal hearings take place before the Board of Pharmacy, and they are typically selected when the charges are not being disputed.
Pharmacists instead are hoping to settle the matter with the BOP, which often results in settlement agreements or sanctions with serious collateral consequences. Many pharmacists choose informal hearings without realizing their options, or the damage a settlement or sanction can ultimately have on their careers.
Formal hearings are presented before an administrative law judge and are similar to a civil case. Each side has the chance to argue their case and submit evidence to support it. Formal hearings give pharmacists the chance to dispute the allegations. The state must prove their case with adequate evidence before disciplinary action can be taken.
The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group have resented many pharmacists and other licensed professionals in administrative hearings, often challenging the state on the inability to prove the allegations. This frequently leads to a highly favorable outcome for our clients.
Pharmacy License Suspensions
Pharmacist license suspensions can occur for fraud, substance abuse, gross misconduct, or if the BOP believes the pharmacist’s actions jeopardizes public safety, health and welfare. Emergency suspensions can occur if the situation is particularly serious.
Pharmacists have the right to request a hearing in both cases, although the hearing in emergency suspensions take place after the suspension goes into effect. Failure to request a hearing within the allotted time frame may constitute a waiver of your right to a hearing, which can have disastrous results. Pharmacists facing license suspension need to contact an experienced attorney as rapidly as possible.
Pharmacy License Surrender
Surrendering a pharmacist license is generally not the best of only course of action a licensed healthcare professional can take. The collateral consequences of license surrender can include loss of employment, inability to reapply for a license, or the loss of other professional licenses.
Pharmacists that believe surrendering their license is the easiest, best or only course of action need to first talk to a qualified attorney. The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group are here to discuss options and provide counsel on the most favorable actions to take. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today.