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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Criminal Diversion Of Prescription Medication

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 07:33 pm


Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication

Prescription medication abuse has become an epidemic in recent years. Many folks who get addicted to prescription pills often turn to criminal means to get their next fix. This article will cover the laws around criminal diversion of prescription meds, defenses that can be used, and the implications of this growing problem.

Criminal diversion of prescription medication basically means getting prescription drugs illegally for personal use or profit. This includes things like:
– Forging or altering prescriptions
– “Doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions
– Stealing pills from pharmacies
– Buying pills from others illegally

Several federal laws address the illegal distribution of prescription meds:

  • The Controlled Substances Act categorizes drugs into schedules based on potential for abuse. It’s illegal to possess, manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances unless authorized (like with a prescription).
  • The Prescription Drug Marketing Act regulates the distribution of drug samples and sets penalties for illegal sales.
  • The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits the sale, purchase, or trade of prescription drugs that were illegally obtained.

States also have their own laws dealing with diversion. For example, in California it’s illegal under Health and Safety Code 11153 to possess controlled substances without a prescription. Breaking these laws can mean both civil fines and criminal penalties.

Implications of Diversion

The illegal distribution and abuse of prescription medications has many troubling implications:

  • Increases strained healthcare costs for legitimate patients
  • Fuels the opioid crisis and overdose deaths
  • Leads to risky criminal activities to finance addiction
  • Harms patient access to needed medications

Prescription drug diversion is a complex problem with no easy solutions. However, a multipronged approach can help:

  • Better prescriber education and prescription drug monitoring
  • Access to addiction treatment and recovery resources
  • Secure storage and disposal of medications
  • Law enforcement and regulations targeting illegal distribution

In the end, a balance is needed between allowing patient access to vital medications, while also addressing the harms of abuse and diversion. It requires effort from lawmakers, healthcare providers, patients, and society as a whole. There are no quick fixes, but progress can be made through education, empathy and understanding.


Prescription medication diversion is a complex issue touching on healthcare, criminal justice, and the opioid crisis. Laws like the Controlled Substances Act make it illegal to distribute prescription drugs without authorization. But prosecuting diversion cases isn’t always straightforward, as defendants may claim they lacked knowledge or intent. Ultimately, a collaborative public health and law enforcement approach is needed. With education, treatment access, secure prescribing practices, and responsible patient use, the harms of diversion can hopefully be reduced. But it will take time, money and societal willpower.


Controlled Substances Act
Prescription Drug Marketing Act
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
California Health and Safety Code 11153

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