Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Florida Compounding Pharmacy’s FCA Suit

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 4, 2017, a Florida federal judge refused to dismiss the federal government’s False Claims Act (FCA) suit against a compounding pharmacy. RS Compounding LLC and its owner, Renier Gobea, are accused of overbilling Tricare for prescriptions. The federal judge refused the dismissal on the grounds that the government had sufficiently backed its allegations against both the company and its owner.

Judge Finds Claims Are Sufficiently Stated.

According to U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington, the government adequately pled its claims that RS and Gobea had knowingly charged Tricare prices well in excess of what it charged cash payors for substantially the same drugs. “The United States’ amended complaint in partial intervention sufficiently states claims for unjust enrichment and violation of the FCA,” the judge said.

The government had also adequately backed its allegations that RS knew it had been overpaid but had made no attempt to refund the difference to Tricare, according to the judge.

Additionally, Judge Covington rejected the owner’s argument that claims against him personally should be dropped from the case pointing to his “extensive involvement” in RS’s operations and his profit-taking from the company.

The Relator’s FCA Suit.

The relator McKenzie Stepe, a former RS sales representative, originally filed her complaint in December 2013. She accused RS and Gobea of charging Tricare, Medicare and Medicaid excessively high rates for certain compounded drugs. Those drugs, all mixtures containing the anesthetic ketamine, were charged to the government at prices of between $400 and $3,000 per bottle when the equivalent rate for an uninsured cash payer was between $15 and $45 a bottle.

The relator’s complaint was dismissed in November 2017, based on what Judge Covington said was a lack of firsthand knowledge to support her claims, but with leave to file an amended complaint by December 7, 2017.

To read the court’s order in full, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving a Florida compounding pharmacy, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Wilson, Daniel. “Fla. Compounding Pharmacy Can’t Escape Tricare FCA Suit.” Law360. (December 4, 2017). Web.

Raymond, Nate. “Florida compounding pharmacy must face U.S. fraud suit – judge.” Reuters. (December 4, 2017). Web.

KeyWords: False Claims Act defense attorney, FCA legal counsel, TRICARE false claims legal defense attorney, TRICARE physician representation, legal representation violating False Claims Act, pharmaceutical fraud lawyer, compounding pharmacy attorney, fraudulent practices of pharmaceutical companies, whistle blower lawyer, FCA violations, fraud detection, financial interest in physician referrals, TRICARE fraud attorney, health attorney, defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law firm, fraud investigations, consumer reports of health care fraud, conflict of interest in physician referrals, compound medication prescriptions, compounding pharmacy lawyer, prescription reimbursement, legal defense of military physicians, legal defense of TRICARE providers, attorney reviews of The Health Law Firm, Veterans Administration (VA) physician defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, legal representation for pharmacies, legal representation for pharmacists, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Alabama Doctor and 3 Nurse Practitioners Charged With Running Fraudulent Pill Mill

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 6, 2017, three nurse practitioners and a doctor were arrested following an Alabama federal grand jury indictment accusing them of operating a “pill mill.” According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), all four allegedly dispensed controlled substances inappropriately, unlawfully and for non-medical reasons.

The Alleged Pill Mill.

The nurse practitioners and physician allegedly prescribed opioids including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and hydromorphone on a monthly basis for years, according to the indictment. They then allegedly billed health care providers for related unnecessary patient examinations.

“[The four defendants] did knowingly and intentionally conspire to distribute and dispense and cause to be distributed and dispensed mixtures and substances containing detectable amounts of controlled substances by issuing and causing prescriptions for those substances outside the usual course of professional medical practice and for no legitimate medical purposes, through the operation of a pill mill,” the indictment stated.

Prosecutors alleged the medical personnel diagnosed patients at the Alabama practice with “vague, unsubstantiated medical conditions,” and prescribed controlled substances in 30-day quantities.

Additionally, prosecutors allege that they required the patients to have a follow-up appointment involving a physical examination that was “medically unnecessary.” They would then bill health care benefit programs for the patients’ visits, usually in the amount of $75, under allegedly false and fraudulent pretenses.

The alleged scheme earned the defendants more than $10,000. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the drug conspiracy and distribution counts. They face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison on the health care fraud counts.

To read the indictment in full, click here.
Law Enforcement Raids on Physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses and Other Health Providers Will Continue.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), investigations against pill mill operations are ongoing. Additional arrests of co-conspirators, including other doctors and health providers, are forthcoming, according to the DEA. If you are a physician, pharmacist, nurse, or other health provider, ensure you are taking measures to protect yourself and your practice.

To see a prior blog I wrote on the steps pain management physicians can take to stay out of trouble, click here.
Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in DEA Cases.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, health care clinics, pain management clinics, pharmacists, pharmacies, and any other health care provider. We defend pain management physicians, clinics and pharmacists in state license investigations, in administrative hearings, and in DEA actions, including Show Cause Orders (SCOs) . The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete), Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. It includes defense in federal or state court and defense in federal or state administrative hearings.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Robinson, Carol. “Alabama doctor, 3 nurse practitioners federally indicted in pill mill case.” AL.com (Alabama News). (December 5, 2017). Web.

Narea, Nicole. “Doctor, 3 Nurse Practitioners Charged With Running ‘Pill Mill’.” Law360. (December 5, 2017). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for pain management clinic, pain management clinic defense attorney, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense attorney, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense legal counsel, Show Cause Order (SCO) defense lawyer, legal representation for over-billing, legal representation for submitting false claims, False Claims Act (FCA) defense attorney, medical license defense attorney, nursing license defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense counsel, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense lawyer, board of medicine attorney, board of pharmacy attorney, legal representation for Department of Health investigations, legal representation for allegations of over-prescribing, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, formal and informal administrative hearing defense attorney, formal and informal administrative hearing defense lawyer, formal and informal administrative hearing defense legal counsel

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Florida Senate Health Committee Approves Change In Optometrist Certification

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 5, 2017, the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee approved a bill that would allow the Florida Board of Optometry to offer practical and written “certification” examinations to applicants. The bill would assist optometrists who were licensed before July 1993 and, therefore, were not required to be “certified.”

Certified vs. Licensed.

In Florida, the law allows certified optometrists to prescribe pharmaceuticals for the treatment of glaucoma. However, licensed optometrists who aren’t certified cannot prescribe those drugs. They are required to make the public aware by posting in their offices a sign that states, “I am a Licensed Practitioner, not a Certified Optometrist, and I am not able to prescribe ocular pharmaceutical agents.”

Applicants are required to submit proof to the Department of Health (DOH) that she or he meets certain requirements and pass an exam within a specified time frame if they wish to be certified.

The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved the bill (SB 520). To read more on SB 520, click here.
To stay on top of news and regulations for optometrists, check our Vision Law Blog regularly.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Optometrists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to optometrists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, contract matters, business law matters, business litigation and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Miller, Daylina. “Panel Approves Change In Optometrist Certification.” Health News Florida. (December 6, 2017). Web.

“Panel Approves Change In Optometrist Certification.” WLRN TV. (December 6, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for optometrists, optometrist defense attorney, ophthalmologist defense attorney, legal representation for eye doctors, medical license defense attorney, optometry license defense attorney, legal representation for optometry licensure issues, Board of Optometry investigation defense attorney, legal counsel for Board of Optometry investigations and hearings, Board of Medicine investigation defense attorney, legal counsel for Board of Medicine investigations and hearings, Department of Health investigation defense attorney, legal counsel for Department of Health investigations and hearings health care professional defense attorney, legal representation for medical professionals, Florida health law attorney, informal administrative hearing defense attorney, informal administrative hearing defense lawyer, informal administrative hearing defense legal counsel, complaint against professional license defense attorney, complaint against professional license defense lawyer, legal representation for Optometrists in Florida, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, complex health litigation defense attorney, complex health care litigation legal counsel

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Woman Lands Herself 6.5 Years in Prison, Owes $45 Million for Medicare Fraud Scheme

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 22, 2017, a Florida woman who was accused of a $45 million Medicare fraud, received a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence, following a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in her case holding that the government could not freeze untainted assets.

Sila Luis received an 80-month prison sentence in addition to being ordered to pay $45 million in restitution.  This came after a 2016 guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Her case continued in 2017 following a 5-3 ruling by the Supreme Court holding that the government could not freeze assets belonging to her that were not tied to the alleged fraud scheme.  This decision has the effect of making it more difficult for law enforcement authorities to swoop in and seize all assets of a suspect, effectively depriving them of the resources to even hire an attorney (which is a common tactic in such cases).

“Innocent” Property Can’t Be Seized.

In the 2016 Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, voted to overturn the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the government could freeze Luis’ “innocent” assets as well as the ones directly traceable to the Medicaid fraud funds.  Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in a separate opinion.

“We conclude that the defendant in this case has a Sixth Amendment right to use her own ‘innocent’ property to pay a reasonable fee for the assistance of counsel,” Justice Breyer wrote for the plurality. “On the assumptions made here, the district court’s order prevents Luis from exercising that right.”

Under federal statute, the government is allowed to freeze some assets before trial in criminal cases alleging federal health care or banking violations, according to the ruling. However, the Justices agreed with the defendant that the freeze o f all her assets kept her from paying her attorney.  This by itself will usually force a guilty plea even from someone who may be innocent.

Prior to her guilty plea, she was accused of Medicare fraud and Anti-Kickback Statute violations allegedly through paying patients.  She allegedly paid the patients to use one of her home health companies so that she could bill the government for unnecessary or unprovided services.  To read more on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, click here.

To read the judgement of the case in full, click here.

To read about another case of Medicare fraud in Florida, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

My Observations on this Case.

The power of pretrial seizure of assets is a very heavy handed tactic that I have seen used a number of times by law enforcement authorities, often, in my opinion, completely wrongfully.  In some cases it is used as a hammer to try to bludgeon the suspect to death.  In others it may be motivated by something as simple as a sheriff’s deputy deciding he really liked the defendant’s car and wanted to seize it.  I have seen the bank accounts of minor children sized when all they contained was what the child had worked for at a part time job to help pay for college.  I have seen an annuity fund seized which had been paid for ten years before any of the criminal activity allegedly took place.  I have seen cash taken from a mother (the wife of the alleged suspect) going into the delivery room at a hospital to give birth, when the cash had just been given to her by her mother to pay the hospital bill. I have seen law enforcement hold out in negotiations to return wrongfully seized property because what they really wanted was the suspect’s new Cadillac to use. Pre-trial seizure is an extremely powerful tool that can be easily misused.

So I can understand the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in this case. On a slightly different topic however, I never cease to wonder at the small (relatively speaking) sentences that are given to the largest crooks.  I have seen poor people who could not feed their families sentenced to similar prison terms for merely a few thousand dollars in Medicaid or food stamp fraud.  Yet here someone bilks us, the taxpayers, out of $45 million and only gets only 80 months?  Let’s see.  That’s getting paid $562,500 per month for every month in jail.  Gosh, I bet there are some pretty rich people around who don’t make $562,500 a month. Typically, we find out that these people have their millions stashed overseas in secret foreign bank accounts.  Do several years in prison, get out, and then vanish overseas to Cuba or elsewhere and live like a king (or queen) for the rest of their lives.  The story seems to happen over and over again.

Maybe the key should be to make the sentencing guidelines give one month of prison times for every one hundred thousand dollars stolen.  Then reduce that prison time by one month for every one hundred thousand dollars that is paid back in restitution.  This promotes prompt restitution while ensuring that the convicted defendant does not get out only to flee somewhere to enjoy their stash of hidden funds.  This means, of course, that the Bernie Maddofs never get out (as should be the case), but at least the smaller offenders are nor being punished disproportionately to the larger ones.

Health Care Fraud Should Not Be Taken Lightly.

We have been consulted by many individuals, both before and after criminal convictions for fraud or related offenses.  In many cases, those subject to Medicare fraud audits and investigations refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter.  Some may even decide not to spend the money required for a highly experienced health attorney to defend them.

Click here to read one of my previous blog posts regarding Medicare audits.

The government is serious about combating health care fraud.  It created a Medicare Fraud Strike Force in March of 2007, in an effort to further prevent and eliminate fraud and abuse of government health care programs.  False claims are a growing problem in the program, costing the government billions of dollars each year.  Accordingly, punishments for defrauding the system can be quite severe.

If you have assets seized by state or federal law enforcement authorities, you must act immediately to start the proceedings to have them released or you may forfeit them.  There are often a number of valid defenses to have your property released.  The Health Law Firm represents individuals, spouses and families in obtaining the release of “forfeitures” and seized property and funds.

If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in a fight for your life.  Your liberty, property/possessions and profession are all at stake.  Often it is possible to settle allegations of Medicare fraud by agreeing to pay civil monetary penalties and fines.  If given such an opportunity, the Medicare provider should consider whether it is worth the risk of facing decades in prison.  Be prepared to give up whatever you need to in order to avoid a conviction and preserve your liberty.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare Issues Now.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S.  They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.
For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Macagnone, Michael. “Fla. Woman Gets 6.5 Years, Owes $45M For Medicare Fraud.” Law360. (November 22, 2017). Web.

Koenig, Bryan. “High Court Determines ‘Untainted’ Assets Can’t Be Frozen.” Law360. (March 30, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Legal representation for Medicare fraud, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for Medicare audits, Medicare audit defense, legal representation for Medicare billing, health care clinic fraud audit, Medicare fraud defense attorney, health care fraud defense lawyer, health care fraud scheme, Medicare fraud scheme, civil forfeiture defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, legal representation for Medicare fraud investigation, civil forfeiture defense lawyer, legal representation for fraudulent billing, legal representation for improper billing, restitution for health care fraud offense, Medicare reimbursement claims, improper Medicare billing claims, false claims defense attorney, legal representation for Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), AKS defense attorney, legal representation for accepting kickbacks, The Health Law firm attorney reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agents May Surprise You at Florida Board of Pharmacy Meeting

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M. Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

At several recent Florida Board meetings, after hearings at which disciplinary cases were considered by the Board, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents approached the health professional. Even in instances where the pharmacist was represented by an attorney and the attorney was there, the DEA agents confronted the professional involved.

What Were the DEA Agents Trying to Do?

In the cases where The Health Law Firm’s attorneys were there representing clients, the professional received some type of discipline on his or her license. Some of these were Settlement Agreements. The DEA Agent approached the professional and urged the professional to sign a voluntary relinquishment of DEA registration.

It seems that this is happening to professionals where there is some type of serious or long-term discipline is being taken against their licenses, such as long-term probation, suspension or revocation. Also, if the charges against the health professional involved, drugs, over-prescribing, abuse of narcotics, operation of a “pill mill,” selling or illegally dispensing or prescribing narcotics, drug diversion or abuse, being impaired from use of drugs, and other similar misconduct. These are often grounds for the revocation, suspension or revocation of the DEA number.

This action by DEA agents has occurred at Board of Medicine meetings and hearings, Board of Osteopathic Medicine meetings and hearings, Board of Dentistry meetings and hearing and Board of Pharmacy meetings and hearings. If you are a professional who has a DEA registration and number, you are, apparently, fair game.

Don’t Be Surprised; Be Prepared and Don’t Make a Rash Decision.

It is unusual to see federal agents of this type “cruising” state professional board meetings like we have seen lately. But, it seems to make sense, from the DEA’s point of view. If you can take several minutes and convince, surprise or intimidate a health professional into relinquishing his or her DEA registration voluntarily, then you may save the government hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars in expenses in having to investigate and have a separate administrative hearing (which the health professional may win), if he or she voluntarily relinquishes the DEA registration.

Immediately consult with an experienced health law attorney who has dealt with the DEA before.

Remember Your Rights; Yes, You Have Rights!

Yes, you do have rights, Constitutional rights. Use them! That is what they are there for.

You have the right to consult with counsel before making a decision. Don’t believe it if a DEA agents tells you that you don’t.

You have the right not to sign any forms or make any statements. Don’t sign anything. Don’t make any statements except for getting the agent’s card and telling them you will have your attorney contact them.

You have the right to take time to consider the matter and consult with others. You do not have to make a decision right away.

The Consequences of Voluntary Relinquishment are Serious and Long-Lasting.

Your voluntary relinquishment are serious and long lasting. It will be treated the same as a revocation of your DEA number. We have consulted with physicians and pharmacists who have never been able to get it back after they relinquished it.

You will probably be terminated from any health insurance panels you are on if this happens.

You will probably have action taken against your clinical privileges if you have clinical privileges at any hospital, nursing home or ambulatory surgical center (ASC).

You may be terminated from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

There are many other consequences that may result.

Therefore, you and your attorney should be aware that this may happen and you and your attorney should be prepared if it does happen.

For more tips on how to prepare, click here to read my prior blog.

Don’t Wait Too Late; Consult with an Experienced Health Law Attorney Early.

Do not wait until action has been taken against you to consult with an experienced attorney in these matters. Few cases are won on appeal. It is much easier to win your case when there is proper time to prepare and you have requested a formal hearing so that you may actually dispute the facts being alleged against you.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing pharmacists, pharmacies and pharmacy technicians in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Administrative hearing attorney, representation for administrative hearings, administrative complaint defense attorney, Board of Pharmacy representation, Board of Pharmacy attorney, Board of Pharmacy defense attorney, representation for Board of Pharmacy investigations, representation for Board of Pharmacy complaints, DEA hearing defense attoreny, DEA investigation attorney, DEA hearing representation, DEA investigation representation, pharmacist attorney, health care professional defense attorney, representation for health care professionals, professional licensure defense attorney, professional licensure representation, licensure defense attorney, representation for licensure issues, representation for pharmacists, representation for pharmacies, pharmacy attorney, review of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

State of Florida Sued as DOH Fails to Grant New Pot Licenses

3-indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 22, 2017, a plant nursery and a man who has epilepsy, filed suit alleging that it’s “high time” for the Florida Department of Health (DOH) to comply with a Florida constitutional amendment and its implementing legislation. The constitutional amendment requires the DOH to license more medical marijuana treatment centers. According to the suit that has been filed, DOH’s failure to do so is depriving patients of medication that they really need.

The Number of Licenced Treatment Centers.

Bill’s Nursery, Inc., and Michael Bowen filed suit accusing the DOH of failing to meet an October 2017 deadline to expand the number of licensed treatment centers in the state by an additional ten as it is being argued, is required by The Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The initiative, known as Amendment 2, was passed in November 2016. Click here to learn more.

Bill’s Nursery previously applied unsuccessfully to become a medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Florida and now wants to apply to be a medical marijuana treatment center. In his suit Bowen claims he relies on medical marijuana to prevent and treat his epileptic seizures.

Treatment Center Licenses.

Despite passage of Amendment 2, the DOH has only given licenses to six additional treatment centers and is refusing to accept and consider additional applications. According to the complaint, this defies the Florida Legislature and threatens the ability of patients to access lifesaving medication. Patients and advocates for medical marijuana claim that the few that have been approved are simply not enough to provide what is needed. During a late October 2017 hearing before the Florida Senate Health Committee, Christian Bax, director of the DOH’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, made it clear that the agency wouldn’t issue the additional licenses until pending litigation challenging a provision of the law is resolved.

According to the suit, the DOH’s refusal to license more businesses is harming competition, preventing companies like Bill’s Nursery from entering the market and strengthening the monopoly hold enjoyed by the seven current treatment centers. Additionally, in the process, the agency and officials are harming patients like Bowen, who says his life is at risk without adequate access to medicinal marijuana, the complaint says.

Click here to read the complaint in full.

To read a previous blog I wrote on the current legislation of Florida’s medical marijuana, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can assist in preparing and completing applications for registration, permitting and or licensing. We can also represent doctors, dispensaries, pharmacies, and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Posses, Shayna. “Florida Sued For Dragging Feet On Medical Pot Licenses.” Law360. (November 22, 2017). Web.

Kam, Dara. “Medical marijuana license delays challenged in lawsuit.” Sun Sentinel. (November 22, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331 6620.

Key Words: Medical and recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, medical marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana growers and distributors, expanding marijuana industry in Florida, medical marijuana growers and distributors, expanding marijuana industry in Florida, medical marijuana dispensary defense attorney, The Health Law Firm Reviews, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, medical marijuana lawyer, legal counsel for marijuana industry, approval of Florida Constitution Amendment 2, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.