DEA Registration Suspensions & Revocations

Assorted Medications in Pill and Capsule Form

DEA Registration Court Hearings, DEA Investigations, and DEA Inspections

As part of its efforts to combat healthcare fraud, the DEA may deny, suspend or revoke a practitioner’s DEA registration for the following reasons:

    • A falsified DEA registration application
    • A state license has been suspended, revoked or denied
    • Excluded from participation in Medicare or Medicaid programs
    • Convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance
    • Committed an act that is inconsistent with the public interest

Many of our attorneys practice professional licensing full-time and are dedicated to helping prescribers and dispensers protect their DEA registration and state licenses (e.g. medical license, pharmacy license, pain clinic license, distributor license, etc.). 

Our healthcare lawyers are experienced in helping practitioners and other registrants defend their DEA registration, both in court and during DEA investigations and inspections. We also assist with the application for DEA registration, DEA registration denial and renewal issues.

DEA Suspension Orders & Show Cause Orders

Image with letters spelling out "DEA".When the DEA takes action to suspend or revoke a DEA registration, it must first serve an order to show cause on the registrant. In certain “emergency” situations, if the DEA finds there is an “imminent danger to the public health or safety,” the DEA may suspend any DEA registration simultaneously with the issuance of an immediate suspension order and order to show cause. 

The show cause order requires you to show why your DEA registration should not be revoked, suspended or denied. The order will contain a statement of the legal basis and reason(s) for issuing the order along with a summary of the facts and law asserted. Much like action taken by state medical boards, the registrant has the right to request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) to challenge the facts alleged in the DEA’s order to show cause.

The registrant has 30 days from the date the order is served to file a request for a hearing. Failure to file the request within 30 days will be deemed a waiver of your right to a hearing, and the DEA may request that final action be taken. 

Therefore, it is important that you contact an attorney immediately upon receiving an immediate suspension order or show cause order, so that we may preserve your rights and prepare your defense to protect your DEA registration.

What is a DEA Immediate Suspension Order?

An Immediate Suspension Order is usually served along with a DEA Order to Show Cause and allows the DEA to circumvent due process and restrict your registration pending a hearing. An Immediate Suspension Order allows DEA to suspend your registration upon a determination that there is an “imminent danger to the public health and safety.”

An Immediate Suspension Order is typically served alongside an Order to Show Cause, enabling you to challenge the DEA’s decision on revocation, but you will not be able to dispense controlled substances while your case is pending. As a result, an Immediate Suspension Order can significantly impact your ability to practice medicine, operate your business, and maintain your lifestyle.

If, after demonstrating your practice is not an imminent danger to the public health and safety, the DEA upholds the immediate suspension order, a registrant may have to seek injunctive relief in federal court.

Can I Fight an Immediate Suspension Order or Surrender?

This is a highly technical area of the law, but the answer is yes, and the healthcare attorneys at Chapman Law Group have assisted many registrants with this issue. 

Registrants whose DEA registrations are held up through immediate suspension orders or were revoked upon signing a voluntary surrender can seek to have the suspension dissolved or their registration reinstated by a judge in federal court. Seeking injunctive relief allows registrants to bypass the lengthy and expensive process of waiting for a new application to be approved and continue dispensing controlled substances if the court sides with the registrant’s case. 

This challenge involves a motion for injunctive relief upon which the registrant must meet four requirements for the court to prevent the DEA’s revocation of the registration:

  • Likelihood of success on the merits
  • Irreparable harm (loss of income is not enough to meet this standard)
  • Harm to others, and the DEA, if the injunction were to be granted
  • Whether public interest favors granting of the injunction

The DEA uses a variety of complex and exhausting means of revoking DEA registrations. It is important to be educated in each of the methods and ensure that competent and experienced legal counsel is by your side. Our DEA attorneys are experienced in defending DEA registrants both during DEA investigations and in subsequent DEA action if noncompliance with the Controlled Substances Act is found.

DEA Show Cause Hearings

Show cause hearings are held before a federal administrative law judge. Each party has an opportunity to present their arguments. You may admit evidence and present witnesses to support your case. The DEA has the burden of proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation occurred. The ALJ will determine whether it is inconsistent with the public interest for the registrant to maintain a DEA registration.

Following the hearing, the ALJ will issue a recommended decision, which is then submitted to the DEA Administrator. If the registrant or DEA disagrees with the ALJ’s recommended decision, they may submit exceptions. The DEA Administrator will issue a final decision either adopting, modifying or rejecting the ALJ’s recommended decision.

The DEA considers the following factors when determining whether a DEA registration would be “inconsistent with the public interest:

      1. Failure to maintain effective controls against diversion of controlled substances into other than legitimate medical, scientific and industrial channels
      2. Failure to comply with applicable state and local laws
      3. Prior federal or state convictions relating to the manufacture, distribution or dispensing of controlled substances
      4. Lack of experience in the distribution of controlled substances
      5. Other factors relevant to and consistent with public health and safety.

If the registrant is unsatisfied with the final decision, they may appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Why You Shouldn’t Surrender Your DEA Registration

The DEA frequently contacts registrants before taking action and attempts to have the registrant voluntarily relinquish their DEA registration in lieu of further action. All too often, registrants voluntarily relinquish their DEA registration because of fear of administrative or criminal action, often without having sought legal counsel.

There are many reasons why you should not surrender your DEA registration. For example:

  • You likely will not be able to obtain a DEA registration in the future.
  • You may face state licensing action against your other professional licenses for surrendering your DEA registration.
  • You may be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid programs.
  • You may be reported to your credentialing committee and may suffer job loss.
  • DEA registration surrenders and other disciplinary action is reported to the National Practitioner Databank.
Chapman Law Group: Your National DEA Defense Partners

The national healthcare attorneys at Chapman Law Group have provided onsite assistance to DEA registrants across the U.S. to ensure their rights and practice are protected when the DEA asks for surrender of registration.

Chapman Law Group is dedicated to protecting the DEA registrations of practitioners, pharmacists, treatment facilities, distributors, nurse practitioners, and other DEA registrants across the U.S. Our national healthcare attorneys assist clients with:

Our attorneys serve healthcare professionals — from physicians and pharmacists, to pain management specialists and chiropractors —  throughout the U.S.

We have four national offices to serve you:

Contact us today for a consultation with our DEA and healthcare defense attorneys.

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or Call us at: 1 (877) 234-5911

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