Prescription fraud has become a prevalent problem for both the health care profession and law enforcement nationwide. It’s becoming increasingly problematic as the country continues to fight an opioid epidemic that kills people every day.
Prescription fraud is defined as obtaining – or trying to obtain – prescription drugs by deceiving someone, misrepresenting yourself, or engaging in other types of fraud. In Oklahoma, prescription fraud is a criminal charge that can be prosecuted as a felony – even if fail to obtain the prescription that you were trying to fraudulently obtain.
What are the elements of prescription fraud?
Prescription fraud involves many factors, including:
- Forging the name of a doctor or pharmacist
- Changing or hiding prescription information
- Changing or hiding names, addresses, names of drugs, or other material things that are relevant when obtaining a prescription
- Convincing other people to alter prescriptions or issue counterfeit prescriptions to you.
People who commit prescription fraud often resort to the following actions:
- Doctor shopping, or going to multiple doctors for the same prescription
- Stealing prescription medications from friends or strangers
- Stealing prescription pads from doctor’s offices
- Robbing pharmacies
- Buying stolen drugs
It’s important to note that if you see a doctor in order to try and obtain a fraudulent prescription, the doctor-patient communication privilege that is normally applied in law goes out the window.
What happens if you are convicted of prescription fraud?
In Oklahoma, prescription fraud is punishable by:
- A maximum of 10 years in state prison
- A maximum fine of $10,000
- Both prison time and a fine
If you get more than one conviction for prescription fraud, the law does not all for suspended sentences or probation in lieu of prison.
How is Oklahoma making it harder to commit prescription fraud?
In 2015, Oklahoma was named the Number One state in the United States of America for prescription painkiller abuse, which means using painkillers for nonmedical purposes. A report done in 2012 concluded that there were an average of two drug overdoses per day in Oklahoma, making drug overdoses the Number One cause of accidental deaths in the entire state.
Because of that distinction, Oklahoma government responded with a number of measures to curb prescription painkiller abuse, particularly with the Prescription Monitoring Program that was expanded in 2006.
The Prescription Monitoring Program does the following:
- Collects and reports the names and telephone numbers of prescription users.
- Requires all prescriptions to be reported to the PMP database within five minutes of being delivered to a patient.
- Requires that doctors check patient PMP records to make sure the patient doesn’t have a habit of abusing opioids and “benzos,” or mild tranquilizers that are used to treat anxiety.