| Read Time: 2 minutes | Prescription Pills & Opioids

Florida House Bill 477 Targets Opioid Abuse in Florida

The State of Florida is ramping up it’s fight against opioid addiction. Earlier this year, Governor Scott declared a statewide public health emergency against opioid abuse. More recently, Governor Scott signed a new Florida law, House Bill 477, which will impose stricter penalties for those convicted of dealing and using pills, heroin, opioids and fentanyl and the overuse of opioid prescriptions. As of today, Florida has new penalties and enhanced laws related to synthetic opioid drugs. There are mandatory minimum sentences for possession of fentanyl and its derivatives. House Bill 477 states that: Controlled Substances; Provides that certain crime laboratory personnel may possess, store, & administer emergency opioid antagonists; provides that unlawful distribution of specified controlled substances & analogs or mixtures thereof which proximately cause death is murder; adds certain synthetic opioid substitute compounds to Schedule I; prohibits possession of more than 10 grams of specified substances; revises substances that constitute certain trafficking offenses; creates certain trafficking offenses; provides specified minimum terms of imprisonment & fines based on quantity involved in for certain offenses. Effective Date: 10/1/2017 It is very clear that we are in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis. Prescription abuse, opioid and heroin overdose is on the rise. But why is this new law so important to understand? First, H.B. 477 sets mandatory minimum sentences for opioid users and dealers. These mandatory minimum sentences take away any and all discretion that a judge may use when evaluating the case of someone grappling with addiction. H.B.477 specifically states that synthetic opioids are now Schedule 1 narcotics unless used for pharmaceutical purposes. When a drug is labelled under Schedule 1 that means anyone convicted of possessing more than 4 grams of fentanyl is subject to a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison. Anyone convicted of possessing more than 14 grams of fentanyl faces serving 15 years in prison and possession of more than 28 grams faces 25 years in prison. In addition to the new law, Governor Scott has proposed new legislation to help enforce this new law and fight the opioid abuse epidemic. Here’s what Governor Scott is pushing for – a $50 million dollar boost in funding and allow for only a three day supply of an opioid prescription. It would also require opioid prescribers to use the Florida Drug Monitoring Program, a database created in 2009 as part of the fight against pain mills. It’s important, now more than ever, to know what is in your prescription, and that HB 477 can have a serious impact on an ordinary user not just a dealer. Judges have no discretion when it comes to mandatory minimum sentences. At Moses and Rooth we understand the severity this new law. We will be able to evaluate the evidence in your case and aggressively defend you against the charges.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Real Drugs, Real Penalties!

Prescription Drugs In Florida People often erroneously believe that just because prescription drugs are lawfully prescribed to people that necessarily implies that they cannot be harmful. Not only is taking prescription drugs that are not prescribed to you dangerous, it is also illegal. People who either are lawfully prescribed drugs that sell them to others or those who unlawfully obtain the drug are all equally culpable under the law for prescription drug offenses. Adderall is probably the most commonly known abused prescription drug on college campuses, especially around exam time. There is now a market for nearly all prescription drugs on the “black market”—a startling fact that has led to those who actually need a prescription being denied access at pharmacies, and those without a prescription being able to access drugs easier than ever. Prescription Drugs The widespread use of prescription drugs by those who are not lawfully prescribed such drugs is a matter of public health. Over 44,000 annual deaths are attributed to drug overdoses according to The Daily World, and prescription-related deaths currently outnumber those from cocaine and heroin combined. The interesting thing about prescription drug abuse is that nearly anyone can fall victim to it. For example, a Florida teacher was recently arrested after allegedly selling Xanax to an undercover officer. On campuses throughout America, obtaining prescription drugs is increasingly easy, as many people have legitimate prescriptions for ADHD, depression, anxiety, or a host of real medical problems. The other problem with prescription drug abuse goes far beyond the illegality to the extent that many people mix prescription drugs with alcohol or other drugs. Many prescription drugs have labels that warn that use of alcohol may intensify the effects of the medication, or urge users not to drink at all while taking the medication. Misusing prescription drugs on college campuses especially can lead to additional problems besides health and law related. Suspensions, expulsions, and other punishments are possible if a student is caught unlawfully using/selling these drugs on campus. Orlando, Florida Prescription Drug Attorneys Using, selling, or sharing prescription medication that is not yours or not prescribed to you can have serious legal consequences. Even a valid prescription can cause problems if you take pills out of the bottle, put pills in another bottle, or carry them freely away from the prescribed bottle. If you do have a lawful prescription for a drug, remember not to share it with anyone for any reason, even if you are asked and feel pressured to do so. Just because you have a prescription for a drug does not make it lawful to share with others. If you are selling prescription drugs, purchasing prescription drugs, or obtaining them unlawfully and have been charged with a crime, our experienced prescription drug crime defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth can help. Contact our Orlando law office to learn more about your legal rights and potentially minimize the negative effects a criminal charge or conviction may have on your life.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

The Legal Consequences of Illegally Selling Prescription Drugs in Florida

Prescription drugs can be just as addicting as other drug substances and, if you are caught in possession of or selling them you may face serious consequences. More specifically, there can be severe penalties for the illegal sale of prescription drugs, even if you possessed the drugs legally in the first place. If you have been charged with the sale of illegal prescription drugs, Moses & Rooth can provide you with a defense crafted by our drug crime attorneys and their many years of experience. The illegal sale of prescription drugs happens in many different ways. A person with a valid prescription may sell the medication to another person. Also, a licensed medical professional may provide a prescription to a person that does not need the medication. Non-Health Care Providers Florida Statute 893.13 makes it illegal to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to sell a controlled substance. If you do not hold a medical license, the punishment for the illegal sale of a prescription drug varies. Under Florida Statute 893.03, drugs that have a medical purpose are separated into four categories determined by the potential of abuse for the substance. The potential for abuse of the prescription drug and the amount that a person is charged with selling will determine if the person is charged with a misdemeanor or a type of felony. A person may be charged with anything from a first degree misdemeanor to a first degree felony depending on what kind of prescription drug is sold, how it was sold, or where the drug was sold. The severity of the punishment could range anywhere from less than a year to up to 30 years in prison. Health Care Providers Under Florida Statute 893.13, a health care professional cannot provide a patient with a prescription that the patient does not medically need or in an amount greater than necessary. Also, a health care professional cannot provide a prescription for the sole purpose of retaining a monetary value for the prescription. A medical professional who is convicted of selling prescription drugs may be found guilty of either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony, however, these are not the only repercussions a doctor or other health care provider may face. A licensed medical professional risks losing their license and future earning potential if found guilty. Depending on the amount of prescription drugs a person has on them when caught selling, the person may face trafficking charges, regardless of whether or not the person is a medical professional. Trafficking charges hold much more severe consequences than just the sale of a prescription drug. Fight the Charges with an Experienced Attorney The use or sale of prescription drugs without a valid prescription can lead to serious legal trouble. If you have been charged with the illegal sale or trafficking of a prescription drug, contact Moses & Rooth. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth can explain the charges and provide options for your defense.

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FDA approves opioid referred to as a ‘Drug Dealer’s Dream’

A new FDA approved opioid drug is set to hit the street that is being referred to by doctors as a “drug dealer’s dream”.  Zohydro is set to hit pharmacy shelves next month after the FDA’s advisory board voted 11-2 against the drug.  This drug is aimed at the patient who needs a more powerful pain pill and cannot get relief from what is currently available.  However, advocates don’t understand the need for the drug when we are already struggling with addiction and deaths from the lesser powerful drugs currently on the market.  Zohydro is a pure narcotic that contains hydrocodone and has 5 to 10 times more power than Vicodin.  Even more disturbing, the Zohydro set for release isn’s tamper resistent which allows abusers to easily crush, then snort or inject the drug. According to the International Narcotics Control Board 2012, “the United States, with about 5% of the world’s population, is now consuming more than 84% of the world’s entire oxycodone supply and more than 99% of the hydrocodone supply”.  A group of more than 40 medical experts wrote to the FDA, “in the midst of a severe drug addiction epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing the country needs is a new, dangerous, high-dose opioid”.  We have all seen the opioids affect someone in our community.  Too many people have already become addicted to similar opioids such as oxycodone and too many deaths have been the result.  The FDA needs to start taking some responsibility and recognize the statistics that are being generated from these powerful pain medications.

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Prescription pills supply is low so Krokodil is moving to Orlando

Krokodil (pronounced like crocodile) has certainly hit the streets of the United State and spreading to Orlando. Even as a criminal attorney for over 10 years, I was surprised to hear about this drug and the dangers associated with it. However, Krokodil is hitting the streets and spreading across the country as a cheap heroin knockoff from Russia. I attribute the spread of this drug to the government’s intensive crack down on prescription pills including opiates (Oxycodone, oxycontin, etc) and then providing minimal treatment options. Law enforcement doesn’t truly understand the strength of these opiates and the difficulty dealing with the addiction. These addicts need options for intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment therapy which are currently limited in most communities. The opiate addicts went running to all the next best options when the prescription pills supply diminished. Many of the opiate abusers ran to heroin, but when the supply of heroin runs thin we will start to see Krokodil spring up. The drug can be easily cooked up at a home with readily available household items. This drug is also known as desomorphine which is made from the painkiller codeine tablets combined with substances like gasoline, hydrochloric acid, paint thinner or lighter fluids. Krokodil is attractive to the addicts who are looking for a cheaper and better high. However, the drug actually rots the skin from the inside out. The name alone comes from the scaly black or green appearance of the skin once the gangrene starts to settle in.

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Oxycodone prescription pills deaths down and Heroin deaths UP

FDLE makes a press release on September 24, 2013 boasting about prescription drug deaths falling across Florida. The supply of the drugs has been shut down so much that doctors and pharmacists are scared to prescribe and fill certain opiate pain medication. Doctors and pharmacists have been the target over prosecution across the state. We need FDLE and the state of Florida to start boasting about all the treatment facilities and education programs available for these overly addictive drugs. The State of Florida should be proud of the reduction in the prescription drug deaths, however more needs to be done. So what happens when the prescription pills supply are cut off by the government? Heroin starts to skyrocket. A close look at the Drug caused deaths in 2010, 2011, and 2012 clearly show a consistent increase in deaths associated with Heroin. The 2012 deaths from Heroin is almost double from the 2011 calendar year. As a criminal attorney in Orlando, I have the opportunity to see the effects of the prescription pills and particularly opiates. We often see individuals who are involved in a minor accident and then a doctor overprescribes the opiates. Before they know it, they become addicted and will do whatever it takes to get the drug. Unfortunately, the treatment available is very limited especially for individuals who may not have the private funds or a great insurance plan. Rather than press releases on reduction in deaths, we need press releases on education and treatment opportunities. Source: Florida Department of law Enforcement

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Warrants issued for Prescription Pills Trafficking Ring

Law enforcement agencies across Central Florida are continuing their attack on the illegal possession of prescription pills and sale of prescription drugs. Over the past several months law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) have added more officers, detectives and agents to combat the overwhelming increase in illegal possession of the prescription drugs. With this increase in law enforcement, the Courts across Central Florida have clearly seen a growth in illegal prescription drug cases. Over the last 11 months, a number of these law enforcement agencies have been working a criminal investigation in Marion County that led to 43 individual arrests for over 200 felonies. The target of the investigation was into the trafficking of thousands of Oxycodone and methadone pills. An Orlando Sentinel article indicated that the “ringleader” formed the organization that included several operators and reselling prescription pills for $15 to $20 a piece resulting in over $100,000 in profits. This investigation is a clear indication of the focus and dedication of resources that the local law enforcement agencies are willing to dedicate to this pill epidemic. Local law enforcement agencies are working together with DEA and FDLE in order to share resources and make these types of arrests across Central Florida. With the assistance of these Federal and State agencies the local law enforcement officers are targeting larger rings of trafficking the pills,doctor shopping, pill mills, and the doctors who are alleged to have been overprescribing the medications.

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CVS Decision Impacts More Than Just Florida Doctors

In an unprecedented act, a national pharmacy chain has informed a small number of Florida doctors, including a few in Orlando, that any prescriptions written for certain pain killing drugs (Schedule II narcotics) will not be filled by the pharmacy. In late 2011, CVS/pharmacy sent an unsigned letter to these doctors notifying them of the decision. What was not stated in the letter is why the pharmacy made the decision was made. However, an article in the Orlando Sentinel notes that Florida, in years past, did little to regulate pain clinics and this attracted abusers and dealers of prescription drugs to the state. And in July of 2011, the state enacted more restrictive controls over the dispensing of pain killers and imposed stiffer penalties on doctors who violate state drug control laws. The Orlando Sentinel also notes that several of the Florida doctors that received letters from CVS/pharmacy, including five in the greater Orlando-area, have previously been arrested for crimes relating to prescription drugs and/or medical malpractice. But, not all of the doctors that received letters have been arrested. One such doctor feels that CVS/pharmacy is “blacklisting” certain doctors and is fighting back. This particular doctor has filed a defamation lawsuit claiming that the pharmacy is “falsely implying” that the doctor is practicing medicine “unethically or illegally.” By not filling certain prescriptions from a number of doctors, the pharmacy does more than just, in the words of one of the doctors, “blacklist” the doctors that received letters, the pharmacy may be preventing many Floridians who live with pain from the prescription medications they so desperately need.

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As Prosecutors crack down on Prescription Pills, Manufactures increase potency

Prescription Pill abuse has forced law enforcement agencies across the country to target pain clinics and pain management doctors. As law enforcement cracks down on the abuse of prescription pills, an article written by the Daily Mail Reporter indicates that at least four manufactures are in the process of patenting the addictive ingredient hydrocodone in a pure form. Do we really need a “pure form” of hydrocodone? The Pharmaceutical companies will have doctors argue that this is just another “tool” for doctors to manage pain. However, the overwhelming addiction abuse associated with these pain medications has forced law enforcement and legislatures to increase penalties for illegally possessing these pain medications. The article in the Daily Mail, quotes Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing who told CBS: ‘You’ve got a person on your product for life, and a doctor’s got a patient who’s never going to miss an appointment, because if they did and they didn’t get their prescription, they would feel very sick. ‘It’s a terrific business model, and that’s what these companies want to get in on.’ These drug companies are going to produce a drug that is 10 times stronger than Vicodin. The reality is that the increased potency is going to lead to an increase in addiction and an increase in Pharmaceutical drug crimes. Some responsibility needs to come from the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers. Even as the criminal penalties increase, pharmaceutical manufacturers should have some type of ethical and legal responsibility to control its distribution.

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