Only professionals duly registered with the DEA who have the appropriate licenses can prescribe controlled substances. These requirements also apply to online pharmacies, although the requirements in question will vary depending on the specific medication. Unfortunately, many innocent people who are unaware of these rules or who unintentionally violate them can be accused of illegally distributing controlled substances over the Internet. It is especially important that these individuals contact an experienced federal crime attorney who can help them begin formulating their defense.
The steps a pharmacist must take before filling a prescription for a controlled substance over the Internet depend on the medication in question. Controlled substances generally fall into five categories, known as schedules. Schedule I substances include heroin and marijuana, while Schedule II drugs are limited to codeine, amphetamine, Ritalin, morphine, oxycodone, and PCP. Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids and products that contain small amounts of Schedule II substances in combination with uncontrolled ingredients. Finally, Annex IV covers medications such as Xanax, Valium, Lorazepam, and Phenobarbital, while Annex V is limited to buprenorphine and cough medications containing codeine.
Pharmacists who are asked to fill Schedule II prescriptions must receive original signed prescriptions in writing before filling the medication. The drugs in Tables III, IV and V only require an oral or fax prescription, provided the pharmacist can confirm the legitimacy of the prescription and the prescriber. In addition, Schedule II substances cannot be refilled via the Internet and controlled substances included in the Annex III, IV and V categories can be refilled up to five times, although no more than six months after the issue date. Finally, only those who are registered with the DEA as importers can enter controlled substances into the country.
Like all pharmacies, Internet pharmacies must record the actual physical location of the entity that purchases and dispatches DEA-controlled substances. The website itself does not need to be registered separately. The pharmacy must also be licensed in the state where the drugs are distributed and in any state where it does business with customers.
Infringements and sanctions
Those who do not comply with these rules may face serious consequences, since under federal law it is prohibited:
- Using a fictitious, suspended, expired, or revoked registration number for the purpose of acquiring or dispensing a controlled substance
- Obtaining a substance controlled by fraud or misrepresentation
- Using or manufacturing machinery used to print or reproduce a trademark on a medicine or container in order to provide a counterfeit substance
- Distribute a controlled substance without registration
- Provide fraudulent information material to receive a controlled substance
Even advertising the sale or distribution of a controlled substance over the Internet is penalized under federal law if the advertisement directs buyers to an unregistered Internet seller. Individuals convicted of these crimes are subject to a $ 30,000 fine and up to four years in prison for each offense. However, the sentence increases if the defendant has any previous drug related convictions.
Call our legal team today
To speak to an experienced federal crime attorney about your pending drug charges, call Jeffrey S. Weiner, PA, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 today. Our team is ready to help you immediately.