If you have a prescription in your name, it is vital that you do not share those drugs with anyone else. Many people may share common prescriptions drugs, like painkillers, Adderall, Vicodin, or other recreational drugs among friends. Others may sell their excess drugs to earn extra cash. In any case, transferring your prescription meds to someone else is often a crime. If you or a loved one was charged with sharing or selling prescription drugs, contact the Philadelphia drug possession lawyers at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long today for help with your case. Our attorneys offer free consultations to help you understand the charges against you and the options you have to fight the case.
Is it Illegal to Give Someone Else Prescription Drugs in PA?
The word “drug” makes most people think of illicit substances like heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth. In reality, any “controlled substance” is considered a drug and is treated similarly under the law. Different drugs appear on different “schedules,” which group drugs by their dangers, risk of addiction, and lack of therapeutic value. Heroin is a Schedule I drug, whereas cocaine and many narcotic painkillers are Schedule II drugs. Schedules II and III include many common prescription medications.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to transfer drugs to someone else or to possess drugs with the intent to give them to someone else. Under 35 P.S. Health and Safety § 780-113 it is illegal to possess or transfer drugs in certain ways. Specifically, subsection 15 of this statute makes it illegal to dispense or sell drugs on Schedules II, III, or IV without authorization. In addition, subsection 16 makes it illegal to possess these drugs without a valid prescription, even if they are common prescription drugs.
Drug crimes are frequently prosecuted at the state level, though there are also certain circumstances where federal prosecution is possible. Federal charges for drug possession and drug trafficking are often more severe and involve widespread investigation of drug trafficking rings and operations.
If you have any doubt as to whether you can give prescription medication to someone else, The Code of Federal Regulations has an answer. 21 C.F.R. § 290.5 requires prescription drugs to carry the warning “Caution: Federal law prohibits the transfer of this drug to any person other than the patient for whom it was prescribed.”
Administering medication to your child or someone else under your care should not run afoul of these laws, and keeping their medication on your person should not lead to criminal charges. Talk to an attorney if this is what lead to your charges.
Why Is it Illegal to Share Prescription Drugs?
Prescription drugs are actually abused at much higher rates than many illicit drugs. Especially in the current “opioid crisis,” police and prosecutors crack down on prescription drug abuse and misuse to prevent the spread of further abuse of prescription drugs.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that prescription drug sales in the United States have quadrupled since 1999. However, this tremendous increase is not attributable to a greater national prevalence of pain and sickness, which the CDC notes has remained largely unchanged since 1999. The more likely cause is aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry, and in particular, the advent of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (DTCPA). One 2011 study from Pharmacy & Therapeutics notes DTCPA has “grown rapidly during the past several decades and is now the most prominent type of health communication that the public encounters.”
According to a recent CDC profile on prescription drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, as of 2010, Pennsylvania’s fatal overdose rate (15.3 per 100,000 population) was slightly higher than the national average rate (12.4 per 100,000 population). About three-quarters of all prescription drug deaths in the U.S. are caused by opioids (prescription pain-killers), such as oxycodone and OxyContin.
In an effort to curb overdose deaths, various laws strictly regulate the circulation and use of prescription drugs in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.
What are the Penalties for Sharing Prescription Drugs?
If you are arrested and charged with drug distribution of a prescription drug, you could face potentially high penalties. Possession with the intent to deliver and drug distribution are felony offenses in PA, which come with the potential of years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The specific penalties you will face often depend on the specific drugs you possessed or sold and other elements, such as whether the offense took place in a school zone or whether you possessed a gun when the transfer took place. Your previous criminal record also affects the final sentence.
Talk to a lawyer about your case to understand the specific penalties you could be facing.
Call for a Free Legal Consultation on your Prescription Drug Offense
Both federal and Pennsylvania laws ban the sharing, sale, distribution, and unlawful possession of prescription drugs – even when they are otherwise legal with a prescription. If you or someone you love was arrested on prescription drug charges in Philadelphia, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. To arrange for a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long represent the accused and fight to get their cases dropped and dismissed and have charges and penalties reduced.