Dispensing drugs is a significant responsibility — one you have undertaken with care for many years. However, you are a pharmacist, not a professional detective. You cannot be expected to spot every intent to attain pharmaceuticals illegally. Unfortunately, it appears the authorities seem to think you should.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) makes their position clear: “As a healthcare professional, you share responsibility for solving the prescription drug abuse and diversion problem.” There you were, thinking that your role as a pharmacist was to help sick people get better.
Many a pharmacist has ended up in court trying to justify why they gave medicines to someone. So it pays to learn how to spot people with false prescriptions to protect yourself from accusations. Here are some signs of potential trouble:
- An excessive amount of prescriptions from the same prescriber: Doctors are busy people, but when one becomes significantly busier than the rest, something may be amiss.
- New customers appear suddenly: If one person has success with a false prescription with you, they may spread the word to others that you are an easy target. A sudden influx of new customers could be a sign.
- Unusual dosages or combinations: A benefit of your years behind the counter is that you know what a typical prescription involves. You will have an idea which drugs do and do not go together, or what dosages seem excessive. Do not be afraid to challenge something that appears odd.
- Strangely written prescriptions: Most prescriptions these days are printed, not hand-written. Seeing a hand-written prescription should probably raise alarms. Equally, a false prescription may contain shorthand or abbreviations that are not common amongst the doctors you work with, raising the alarm something is not right.
If accused of prescription fraud, seek legal help to defend your professional reputation and fight the charges against you.