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What is “doctor shopping” and why is it illegal?

Apr 4, 2022 | Drug Charges

Doctors are becoming increasingly vigilant about not overprescribing opioids and other potentially addictive prescription drugs for pain and anxiety. This isn’t just out of concern for their patients but to avoid potentially serious legal and financial consequences.

Texas also has a Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) for Schedule II and higher controlled substances “dispensed by a pharmacy in Texas or to a Texas resident from a pharmacy located in another state. Together, these measures have made the practice of “doctor shopping” less common.

However, it’s important to understand what doctor shopping is because it is illegal. Just what is it? Say your doctor refuses to renew your prescription for pain medication for a back injury because it’s too soon or they believe you’ve been on it long enough. You go to another doctor and pretend that your injury is new so that they’ll prescribe more pain meds. When those run out, you might go to yet another doctor. That’s an example of doctor shopping.

What does Texas law say?

Under Texas law, it’s illegal to try to “obtain a controlled substance…that is not medically necessary” or an amount that’s not medically necessary “by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge, or concealment of a material fact.” The law notes that “whether the person has an existing prescription for a controlled substance issued for the same period of time by another practitioner” qualifies as a material fact.

Even if someone isn’t able to obtain the prescription drug they’re seeking, they can be charged with violating the Texas Health and Safety Code. The seriousness of the offense depends on the drug’s “schedule,” or class. For example, someone accused of trying to illegally obtain a Schedule II drug could face a second-degree felony charge.

People who become reliant on powerful drugs often make decisions that aren’t in their best interests. If you’re facing charges involving doctor shopping or another type of prescription drug fraud, it’s crucial to make sure that your legal rights are protected and that you’re able to present your case. Any drug-related conviction can have a serious effect on your life and future.