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What is Doctor Shopping & Why is it Illegal?


Historically, we’ve heard all about America’s war on drugs. In fact, it was such a huge problem that local, state, and federal authorities have funded huge campaigns to help raise awareness about the dangers of illicit drug use. But now that it’s the 21st century, prescription drug abuse has grown to be a significant, widespread problem, especially as it pertains to drug overdose deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented epidemic of prescription drug overdose deaths. More than 41,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2011, and most of these deaths (22,810) were caused by overdoses involving prescription drugs.”

Of the prescription overdose deaths in 2011, three-quarters were in connection with a prescription opioid pain reliever, which was derived from the opium poppy or one of its synthetic versions. These drugs include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone reports the CDC.

States Regulate Prescription Drug Practices

Each state is responsible for regulating and enforcing responsible prescription drug practices. One such issue that states deal with is called “doctor shopping.” This refers to when a patient obtains controlled substances from multiple doctors without the healthcare providers having knowledge that the other doctors are prescribing the same thing.

All 50 states make doctor shopping illegal and they have all adopted or slightly altered a provision from the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act of 1932 or the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Here’s an example of the provision from the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act that many states have adopted:

“[n]o person shall obtain or attempt to obtain a narcotic drug, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a narcotic drug . . . by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge[ ] or . . . by the concealment of a material fact . . . .”8 The Uniform Controlled Substances Act was introduced much later and included similar language; however, it did not include the phrase “concealment of material fact.”9

So, what does Ohio say about “doctor shopping”? To learn more about Ohio’s specific doctor shopping laws and how they apply to your criminal case, we invite you to contact Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC. Servicing clients throughout Ohio, we can be reached at (937) 403-9033.