California Business and Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC: Excessive Prescribing Of Drugs
Doctors and other medical professionals are given authorization to prescribe powerful and often highly addictive drugs. The California legislature has recognized the potential for abuse in granting this power, and under California Business and Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC the excessive prescribing of drugs is a criminal offense that can carry significant consequences for those convicted, including loss of professional license.
To convict a defendant under California Business & Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following:
- The defendant engaged in repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing or administering of drugs or treatment.
A practitioner who has a medical basis for prescribing, furnishing, dispensing or administering dangerous drugs or prescription controlled substances would not be subject to disciplinary action or prosecution under California Business and Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC.
Additionally, no physician or surgeon would be subject to disciplinary action for treating intractable pain in compliance with the law.2. Related Offenses
Other similar or related offenses include:
- Prescribing a Controlled Substance Without a Legitimate Purpose – California Health and Safety Code Section 11153 HSC
- Prescribing a Controlled Substance Without Treatment – California Health and Safety Code Section 11154(a) HSC
- Prescribing Controlled Substances to an Addict – California Health and Safety Code Section 11156 HSC
A doctor treats an elderly patient who suffers from severe pain. The patient will be going out of town for an extended period of time and requests that the doctor write a prescription for a supply of painkiller medication that will last for several months. The doctor typically does not like to prescribe that much pain medication, but he makes an exception for this patient and provides the requested prescription. This doctor would not be criminally liable under California Business and Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC because his actions are not “repeated” as required by the statute, the doctor had a clear medical basis for writing the prescription and his patient was being treated for intractable pain.
In another example, an audit of a doctor’s office shows that on several occasions the doctor was excessively prescribing drugs. The doctor would prescribe quantities of medications far beyond industry norms and there was no sign that the prescriptions were made in conjunction with a medical basis. Among other offenses, this doctor could be prosecuted for excessive prescribing of drugs in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 725(b) BPC.4. Defenses to Excessive Prescribing of Drugs
As noted above, if the doctor or other medical professional had a medical basis for prescribing, furnishing, dispensing or administering the drugs in question, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. Also, a physician or practitioner would not be criminally liable if the patient was being treated for intractable pain in compliance with the law.
Also this crime only applies to “repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing.” Although the statute does not define exactly how many times counts as a “repeated act” or exactly what “excessive” means, someone charged with this offense may have a strong offense for a one time violation or if the amount prescribed was not “clearly excessive.”5. Penalties
Excessive prescribing of drugs is a misdemeanor level offense. Those convicted can be sentenced to a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of six months in jail, in addition to court fines. Any defendant convicted of this offense would also be subject to disciplinary action by the relevant licensing agency and may run the risk of having his or her professional license revoked or suspended.6. Criminal Defense for Excessive Prescribing of Drugs Cases
If you or a loved one have been arrested or investigated for excessively prescribing drugs, it is critical that you discuss the matter with a qualified Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who currently represents working professionals charged with white collar offenses like this. Mr. Kraut is highly respected throughout the court system and works tirelessly to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.
For more information about excessive prescribing of drugs, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.