While prescription painkillers, stimulants and CNS depressants help millions of Americans with chronic and acute conditions, they are also a serious problem for those who abuse them. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 18 million people have abused these drugs at some point within the past year. Of the 70,000 people who died from drug overdoses in 2018, two out of three were from opioids, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug abuse and addiction, in some cases, leads to prescription fraud, as one way to obtain these prescription drugs is through the pharmacy.
Types of prescription fraud
Fraud is not limited to drug-seeking patients, pharmacists, healthcare providers, nurses and other medical professionals can commit fraud as well. In some cases, people may not realize they have committed a fraudulent activity.
According to Texas state statutes, types of prescription drug fraud include the following:
- Forging a prescription, which can include altering a legally written prescription or generating a new prescription using a written pad or computer
- Doctor shopping, which involves visiting many doctors with the intent to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Impersonating a medical professional to call in a prescription
- Filing a false police report indicating that your medication has been stolen in order to obtain more
- Purchasing drugs off the internet or from an illegal source
- Prescribing medication without a legitimate reason
It is also illegal to share prescription medication with others.
Consequences in Texas
The repercussions of prescription fraud in Texas depend on what schedule of controlled substance is involved in the case, as well as other circumstances regarding the situation. If the case involves a controlled Schedule II through V, the defendant may face a third-degree felony, which includes a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
If the case involves a Schedule I or II substance, it may be a second-degree felony, with the same fine amount and a potential of up to 20 years in prison. Those who assist in writing an illegal prescription or delivering a prescription drug obtained illegally may face up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000, which are the penalties for a class A misdemeanor.