Every year, tens of thousands die from overdose deaths in the United States alone. The opioid crisis has been increasing rapidly and with force in recent years. The severity of this opioid crisis has put pressure on lawmakers to take action — including here in Texas.
One of the ways that Texas legislators decided to address this health crisis is through what’s known as the Prescription Monitoring Program.
After its conception, however, the program was delayed in order to better integrate it into the medical system and to ensure it was not a significant hindrance to doctors.
That delay period came to a close on March 1st, 2020.
The Texas Prescription Monitoring Program
The Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is a program that requires doctors to consult with a state-wide database in order to keep track of patient information. Its purpose is to allow doctors to better evaluate patient medications and risk levels.
Through the use of a database called NarxCare, pharmacists and providers can see patient risk scores based on real-time analysis of controlled substance data. This will help providers in determining the risk of substance misuse and abuse.
Pharmacists and providers are required to check the PMP, and failing to do so may cause the provider to be liable for a PMP violation.
Stiff Penalties for a PMP Violation in Texas
Under the Occupations Code, pharmacies and pharmacists are liable for the relevant penalties of any violations of a rule or regulation of their profession. This includes the diverging of controlled substances.
The amount of the penalty is a fine of up to a maximum of $5,000 dollars for each violation under the code…per day. Each day a violation occurs (or continues), it is counted as a separate occurrence when determining the total penalty.
The amount of the assessed fine is based on the following criteria:
- The seriousness of the violation
- The risk of harm to the economy and environment due to the violation
- Any history of previous violations
- The amount necessary to deter future violations
- The amount necessary to correct the violation
- Any other matters that may be deemed necessary
It doesn’t take a mathematician to see how quickly fines can be racked up for what may seem like a singular issue. So what exactly are some of the issues that qualify as an offense?
Violations Related to the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program
Under the amended health and safety code, registrants and dispensers commit an offense under quite a few circumstances.
Possible Manufacturer and Distributor Violations
- Distributing a controlled substance in violation of Subchapter C.
- Manufacturing a controlled substance that is not authorized by the Federal Drug Enforcement administration or dispenses a controlled substance to a non-registrant.
- Failing or refusing to make a record, report, invoice, etc.
- Producing a prescription form without approval from the board.
- Delivering or possessing a counterfeit prescription form.
Possible Doctor Violations
- Refusing an authorized inspection.
- Refusing or failing to return an official prescription form.
- Failing to make or keep a record required by a rule adopted by the director of the board.
- Failure to maintain the security required by law.
Possible Pharmacist Violations
Any person commits an offense if they knowingly commit any of the following actions:
- Distributing a controlled substance in schedule I or II as a registrant or dispense, unless that person is authorized to do so.
- Using a Federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration number that is not valid or belonging to another.
Possible Patient Violations
- Issuing a prescription using a forged or fake signature.
- Uses a prescription issued to another in order to prescribe a controlled substance.
- Possessing or attempting to obtain or possess an increased quantity of a controlled substance through:
- Misrepresentation, fraud, forgery
- Misusing or fraudulent use of prescription form
- A fraudulent prescription made orally or through telephone communication
- Fraudulent electronic prescriptions
- Puts false information or omits material information from an application that is required to be kept.
Texas Criminal Offenses Related to Prescription Information
Pharmacists may also be liable for criminal offenses related to prescription information. An individual who is authorized to receive prescription commits an offense if:
The person discloses any information or uses said information in an inappropriate and unauthorized manner. This is a Class A Misdemeanor and punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
An individual commits an offense if they misrepresent a material fact or fail to disclose a material fact during the request of said information. This is a Class C Misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $500.
How Texans Can Fight Back Against Violations
As seen above, there are a number of ways an individual can violate occupational codes and the Prescription Monitoring Program.
Whether the violation was intentional or not, individuals may be liable for the penalty. A Texas criminal lawyer with experience handling controlled substance cases may be able to assist with these charges.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Tp Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.