We represent physicians, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare providers and practices before the Drug Enforcement Administration. Our services include assistance with DEA registration applications and representation of healthcare providers in DEA investigations (including “inspections” and “site visits”).
In addition, we defend healthcare providers in response to DEA Orders to Show Cause, DEA Suspension Orders, DEA Memorandums of Agreement, DEA number revocations, in DEA administrative hearings, and in cases referred by the DEA to the U.S. Attorney's office for criminal prosecution.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the agency charged with enforcing the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The Office of Diversion Control zealously prosecutes reported offenses and these tactics result in individuals being stripped of their registrations and licenses before they even have the opportunity to process the fact that they are being investigated. This is part of the psychological aspect of the initial thrust and parry. Although it is difficult to stand up for yourself in the face of such force, it is imperative that you resist the temptation to yield.
If the DEA notifies you that you are under investigation, do not take any action until you have consulted an attorney. Despite any representation on the part of the DEA that the voluntary relinquishment of your registration and/or license will facilitate the process and allow you to get through the investigation in an expedited fashion, the fact is that you are unlikely to have your registration and license reinstated if you take the step of permitting its revocation. Although you may request a copy of any paperwork presented to you by regulatory officials, do not sign anything without it being approved by an experienced attorney.
The process of investigating your license or DEA registration is the subject of administrative law and, therefore, different than other processes with which you may be familiar. In these matters, the best defense is a good offense. Although the knowledge that you are under investigation may be overwhelming, and nearly paralyzing, it is important to be active in the matter from the very beginning. Having an experienced attorney guide you through the steps enables you to find active solutions early. Even if you are not overwhelmed by the investigatory process and believe that your extensive education, professional knowledge, and medical practice experience empower you to mount a successful defense, please remember that this is a legal investigation with long-range consequences. If there are sanctions, then these are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and the state licensing boards for other jurisdictions in which you may be licensed. In addition, the DEA may refer a case to the U.S. Attorney's office for criminal prosecution.
The steps involved in an administrative legal action involve interviews and appearances with field investigators and licensing boards, followed by written proposals and possible suggested sanctions. At this point, engaging an attorney and starting to defend yourself becomes progressively less effective. The administrative body has made conclusions with regard to your situation. Those decisions have become part of the record and incorporated into the general body of what is known. Challenging these items and beliefs will become tantamount to pushing a boulder uphill. It is far more efficient to seek assistance when the boulder is still a pebble.
After the findings and proposed sanctions have been rendered, you are faced with two possibilities: settle or face an administrative hearing. Neither prospect is particularly appealing. If you do decide to pursue formal administrative action, the process is arduous and confrontational. Possible forms of administrative sanctions include reprimands placed in the public record, suspensions of your license or registration, long-term or permanent restrictions, probationary periods of indeterminate length, or complete revocation of your registration and/or license. Any of these results can significantly interfere with your career and, of course, revocation of your license is certainly a death knell for the professional path that you were following as it will impact out-of-state licenses as well as the one that was the subject of the immediate investigation.
Early resolution of any action that impinges upon your registration or license is the most certain means of preserving your livelihood.