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Isabelle Bibet-Kalinyak, Member, McDonald Hopkins

Beware of Prescription Scams Targeting Healthcare Providers

By Isabelle Bibet-Kalinyak
McDonald Hopkins

See all this Month's Articles

Original Publish Date: November 5, 2019

Healthcare providers and employers should be on alert for a series of emerging phone scams specifically targeting healthcare providers with prescription authority and pharmacists. These scams have been reported in Ohio and are expected to afflict providers in other states as well.

Scammers are calling prescribers and pharmacists stating that they are being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and that their DEA registration is going to be revoked or that they will be arrested if they do not pay a fine immediately by phone or fax. A variation involves calls from individuals posing as agents of the Ohio Board of Pharmacy or the Ohio State Medical Board trying to obtain payments to resolve pending disciplinary matters.

These instances are being investigated by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio State Medical Board and the DEA. These agencies want to reaffirm that if they are conducting an investigation and a provider is facing action against his or her license, they will issue an official notice of opportunity for a hearing via certified U.S. mail or by personal service. In no case will the Ohio Board of Pharmacy or the Ohio State Medical Board be calling providers to collect fines over the phone or by fax.

More information has been published on the DEA website. Other scams involve individuals posing as DEA special agents, a clear violation of federal law. The DEA confirms that its agents do not contact members of the public by telephone to demand money or payment of any kind. If you receive a telephone call from a person posing as a DEA special agent, DEA investigator, or any other law enforcement official seeking money, you should categorical refuse the demand and report the threat on the DEA website.

Scammers are also targeting individuals buying prescription drugs over the internet or by telephone. The impersonators call the victims and identify themselves as law enforcement officials. They inform their targets that procuring drugs over the internet or by telephone is illegal and that unless they pay a fine by telephone or wire transfer to a designated location, they will be prosecuted. Some impersonators go as far as threatening to arrest them or search their property. The DEA reminds the public that it is illegal to purchase controlled substance pharmaceuticals online or by telephone. Strict regulations apply in order to safeguard the public. Individuals, who order pharmaceutical medications online or by telephone, put themselves and the public at risk for receiving unsafe, counterfeit, or ineffective drugs.

If providers suspect that they have been the victims of a scam, they should call their State Board of Pharmacy as soon as possible and ask to speak with a representative in the Compliance and Enforcement Department.

Isabelle Bibet-Kalinyak's practice focuses on health care law (transaction and compliance) and business immigration, primarily in health care settings. She can be reached at 216-348-5736 or