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Federal Healthcare Fraud Schemes: Online Pharmacy Fraud

Today, the convenience of the internet has made the purchasing of products easier than ever before.  However, a great deal of fraud can take place online.  One form of online fraud, online pharmacy fraud, has crept into the health care world and can be detrimental to the health and well-being of unknowing patients.   For this reason, the Federal government has instituted harsh penalties for those found guilty of online pharmacy fraud. If you think this applies to you, you will need a Maryland federal healthcare fraud attorney that you can trust.

If you have been charged with Federal health care online pharmacy fraud, you could be facing these harsh penalties.  A Maryland Federal online pharmacy fraud lawyer can help ease your mind by explaining the process you will be undergoing while examining if you were incorrectly charged.

What is an Online Pharmacy?

21 U.S. Code Section 802 states that an “online pharmacy” for the purposes of the Controlled Substances Act, is an online website that knowingly or intentionally distributes, or attempts to distribute, a controlled substance by way of the internet.

About Federal Health Online Pharmacy Fraud

When most people think of “online fraud” they think of websites stealing consumer’s passwords or credit card numbers.  Online pharmacy fraud is different.  The Federal government considers online pharmacy fraud to be the crime of selling medications in the U.S. that have not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (“FDA”) over the internet.

Further, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 states the following:

  • No controlled substance that is a prescription drug may be delivered, distributed, or dispensed by means of the Internet without a valid prescription.
  • It is against the law for an online pharmacy to fail to register its website with the appropriate government agency.

Essentially, as a Maryland online pharmacy fraud lawyer can explain, the government wants to ensure that a real in-person patient/doctor relationship takes place before a prescription is issued and subsequently filled by a pharmacist.

Federal Online Pharmacy Fraud Penalties

The Federal government finds online pharmacy fraud to be a grave crime and penalizes those who commit this crime.

Some prescription drugs are generally thought to be Schedule IV drugs, which include drugs with a low potential for abuse and an accepted medical use for treatment within the U.S.  As such, Section 841 penalizes the illegal manufacture, distribution, and/or dispensing of controlled substances of Schedule IV drugs, by:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • A fine in excess of $250,000 for an individual
  • A fine in excess of $1,000,000 if other than an individual
  • Up to 10 years in prison if a prior drug conviction exists
  • A fine in excess of $500,000 for an individual with a prior drug conviction
  • A fine in excess of $2,000,000, if other than an individual, with a prior drug conviction

Work with a Maryland Federal Healthcare Fraud Lawyer

As you can see, the penalties associated with Federal health care fraud are steep, involving fines and possible time in prison.

A Federal online pharmacy fraud lawyer in MD can help mitigate your potential penalties while looking for ways to build a strong defense and/or attempt to have your case dismissed.  If you would like to consult with an experienced Federal attorney, please contact our firm.