Pharmacist License Defense

Chapman Law Group recognizes the hard work it takes to become a pharmacist and understands the stress that pharmacists experience daily as a result of the heavy increase in regulations by the Board of Pharmacy and DEA in recent years. The increase in regulations, disciplinary actions and criminal allegations has left many pharmacists fearful they might one day lose their job, license and even freedom.

Chapman Law Group is dedicated to the defense of health professionals, including pharmacists, pharmacies and pharmacy technicians. Many of our attorneys practice professional licensing defense full-time and regularly represent pharmacists with matters before the Florida Board of Pharmacy, Michigan Board of Pharmacy, Department of Health (DOH), LARA, DEA and local criminal courts.

Types of Pharmacist License Matters

Board of Pharmacy Investigation Process

Facing an investigation by the Board of Pharmacy or State is a very serious matter; however, if handled properly and timely, you may be able to avoid formal action against your pharmacist license. The investigation process usually starts when a complaint is received by the Board of Pharmacy, Florida Department of Health (FDOH) or Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Complaints against a pharmacist, pharmacy or pharmacy technician can be made by anyone; however, they are generally made by customers, colleagues, employers, and even disgruntled friends and family. Virtually anyone can file a complaint. Complaints against pharmacists, pharmacies and pharmacy technicians are assigned to state investigators who conduct a preliminary investigation before formal action is taken against the pharmacy licensee. Pharmacists typically become aware that a complaint has been made against them when they receive a call or letter from the investigator requesting a meeting. We strongly advise that you speak with our pharmacist license defense attorneys before speaking with the investigator. All too often, pharmacists speak with investigators in hopes of “clearing up” the situation. Sadly, those statements are later used against them. The primary goal of the Board of Pharmacy, DOH and LARA is to protect the public. Chapman Law Group’s primary goal is to protect the rights, licenses and careers of health professionals.

If you are aware of a Board of Pharmacy investigation or other state investigation into your conduct, please contact our pharmacist license defense attorneys. There is often a small window of time to respond to the investigator’s request for a meeting before the investigator seeks the authority to file a formal complaint against your pharmacist license. Our attorneys frequently work with the Board of Pharmacy and state investigators and are experienced in resolving investigations. Our attorneys can present your case to the investigator in the best possible light and work with him or her to resolve the issues before formal action is taken. Even if there is no validity to the complaint, we can speak with the investigator on your behalf to demonstrate that the allegations lack truth or support and that your actions were within the required standard.

We recognize that the cost of an attorney is unforeseen and deters some pharmacists from retaining counsel to assist in the investigation process. However, hiring a pharmacist license defense attorney who can resolve the issue at the investigation stage will be significantly less expensive than defending a formal complaint. Additionally, resolution of the matter at the investigation stage will likely result in no disciplinary action being reported against the licensee; whereas formal actions are reported, even if later successfully resolved.

Pharmacist License Complaint Process

The Board of Pharmacy reviews the investigation file to determine if there is sufficient evidence to file a formal complaint. In Florida, the Board of Pharmacy holds what is called a probable cause meeting to determine whether there is probable cause to file an administrative complaint. In Michigan, the Board of Pharmacy determines whether there is a public health code violation. If the Board of Pharmacy does not find probable cause or a violation of the public health code, the investigation is dropped. If the probable cause or a violation is found, the Board of Pharmacy moves to file an administrative complaint.

Administrative complaints against pharmacists are filed in Florida by the Department of Health (DOH) and in Michigan by the Licensing and Regularity Affairs (LARA) division. When an administrative complaint is filed that seeks to discipline a pharmacist or revoke a pharmacist license, the licensee has the right to request a hearing as part of their constitutional right to due process. The licensee must request the hearing. Failure to request a hearing within 21 days of receiving the administrative complaint constitutes a waiver of your right to a hearing. If you received an administrative complaint, please contact our pharmacist license defense attorneys immediately to discuss your options. There is a short window of time to respond to the administrative complaint before the BOP seeks authority to take final action.

Chart of Administrative Complaint Process for Pharmacist Florida

Chart of Administrative Complaint Process for Pharmacist Michigan

Board of Pharmacy Hearings and Administrative Hearings

In Florida, there are two types of hearings that you may request: an informal hearing in front of the Board of Pharmacy or a formal hearing in front of a neutral administrative law judge. In Michigan, you may elect a formal hearing in front of a judge or an informal meeting with a representative of the pharmacy board. The biggest difference between the two hearings is that an administrative law judge can hear and settle disputes regarding the facts alleged in the complaint, whereas the BOP cannot hear or determine facts that are in dispute. Therefore, informal hearings are generally selected when the licensee does not dispute the facts alleged in the complaint and they wish to settle the matter with the Board of Pharmacy. We strongly advise against selecting an informal hearing without first speaking with our pharmacist license defense attorneys. All too often, pharmacists settle with the BOP out of fear or because they were unaware of the alternatives that were available to better protect their license. Sadly, licensees who settle with the BOP without counsel are often unaware of the serious collateral consequences that can arise from settlement agreements and sanctions imposed by the BOP. Therefore, please call our attorneys to discuss your options before electing an informal hearing or attempting to settle the matter with the Board of Pharmacy.

Formal hearings are held before an administrative law judge and proceed much like a civil case. Each party has an opportunity to argue their case and may admit evidence to support their case. Unlike informal hearings, formal hearings may be used to dispute the facts alleged in the complaint. Another significant difference between the two hearing types is that a formal hearing requires the state to prove their case by clear and convincing evidence in Florida, or by a preponderance of the evidence in Michigan before the board can take disciplinary action; whereas, an informal hearing does not. Put another way, an informal hearing does not require the Board of Pharmacy to prove their case before disciplining a pharmacist. Our attorneys regularly represent health professionals in administrative hearings and frequently challenge the state on their failure to prove the facts alleged. Often this leads to a successful outcome. While we work with the Board to settle investigations, we aggressively challenge them when they seek to formally discipline or revoke the license of our client.  We know you worked hard for your pharmacist license, and our pharmacy attorneys will work hard to help you protect it.

Pharmacist License Suspensions

The Board of Pharmacy may suspend a pharmacist license if they believe a pharmacists’ conduct jeopardizes the health, safety and welfare of the public. Often pharmacist licenses are suspended for gross misconduct, substance abuse or fraud. Just like with administrative complaints, the licensee has a right to a hearing as part of their constitutional right to due process. However, in the case of emergency suspension, the hearing is conducted after an action is taken against a pharmacist due to the gravity of the allegations. The pharmacist must request a hearing. Failure to request a hearing may constitute a waiver of your right to a hearing and the emergency suspension may stand as a final action. If your pharmacist license has been emergently suspended, contact our pharmacy attorneys immediately. There is a very short window of time in which you must respond/appeal and petition the court for reinstatement of your license.

Why You Shouldn’t Surrender Your Pharmacist License

Occasionally, pharmacists will not challenge suspension orders and surrender their license. They may do so because of fear of additional action, because they no longer wish to practice in that state or because there is some truth to the allegation and they believe they cannot save their pharmacy license. Only in very rare circumstances is surrendering a pharmacist license the best or only course of action. The collateral consequences of surrendering a license can include loss of other professional licenses, inability to reapply for licensure and loss of employment. This often leaves the former licensee unable to practice in the profession for which they trained so hard. We are dedicated to protecting the licenses of health professionals and want to help you protect your pharmacist license and your career. If you are considering surrendering your pharmacist license, please contact us so we can make sure you are aware of your options before you make a decision that will significantly impact your future.

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