The practice of pharmacy is highly regulated by a vast body of state and federal laws and regulations that are ever growing and changing. Pharmacy owners and managers are expected to stay compliant with these laws and regulations and are subject to routine compliance inspections. Failure to comply can result in discipline, including revocation of permits and/or DEA registrations, and even criminal charges. Therefore, it is important that pharmacy owners and managers take proactive steps to ensure compliance before their pharmacy is subjected to a pharmacy inspection by the State or DEA.
The Board of Pharmacy can inspect a pharmacy for several reasons, including inspections prior to permitting/licensing, inspections after receipt of application for change of location or change of ownership, routine inspections to ensure compliance, and enforcement inspections.
Licensing/permitting inspections and routine pharmacy inspections look for compliance with state statutes and regulations. The main areas of inspection include:
Our pharmacy law attorneys assist pharmacy owners and managers prior to inspections to ensure compliance, during inspections to answer the inspector’s questions, and after inspections to address any deficiencies and defend administrative actions.
If the investigator finds deficiencies during the pharmacy inspection, they will issue an investigative report that outlines the alleged violations. The report is forwarded to the Department’s attorney for possible disciplinary action. Disciplinary action is usually initiated by an administrative complaint; however, the Department may issue an emergency suspension of a pharmacy’s license if they believe the conduct jeopardizes the health, safety or welfare of the public.
Possible sanctions for deficiencies include:
In Florida, the Department can conduct routine compliance and investigate inspections. Applicants for pharmacy permits consent to inspections prior to issuance of a permit. Obstruction during these pharmacy inspections are grounds for discipline.
In Michigan, the Board cannot conduct a pharmacy inspection without consent or an administrative search warrant. If the Board of Pharmacy asks for your consent to inspect, we advise that you contact our attorneys immediately to determine whether consent should be given. Only in emergency circumstances can the Board of Pharmacy inspect without consent or a warrant. Similar to Florida, Applicants for pharmacy permits are subject to permitting inspections prior to issuance of a permit.
While most pharmacy inspections are routine compliance inspections, some aim to investigate things such as patient complaints, suspected diversion and fraud. Inspections led by complaints and suspected violations can quickly result in disciplinary action. Therefore, we strongly advise that you contact our attorneys immediately if you believe you are under investigation or subjected to a pharmacy inspection.
Enforcement investigations can be difficult to distinguish from a routine inspection. Key things to look for are presence of law enforcement, including DEA and OIG, together with state investigators (BOP/DOH); an administrative warrant authorizing seizure of property; and investigators seeking to take statements from staff.
Our attorneys can help ensure that the investigators/law enforcement do not exceed the scope of their warrant or investigative authority set by statute; determine if/when to withdraw consent to search; ensure pharmacy owners, managers and staff do not make incriminating statements; and respond to the investigator’s questions. Most importantly, if arrests are made, we can help ensure your rights are protected, that you do not provide information that may be harmful later.
Similar to state inspections, the DEA conducts pharmacy inspections for various reasons, including investigation of a complaint and random inspections to ensure compliance. Compliance driven pharmacy inspections generally inspect things such as:
The DEA has authority to bring criminal charges if they discover diversion or other serious violations during a “routine” inspection. Therefore, we strongly advise that you contact our attorneys immediately if the DEA arrives to inspect your pharmacy. The DEA must have consent or an administrative search warrant to inspect a pharmacy. Our attorneys can help you determine whether to give consent, and/or provide onsite representation to answer the investigator’s questions, ensure that pharmacy staff do not make incriminating statements to investigators, and ensure that the DEA does not exceed the scope of search authorized by statute or their search warrant.
Our attorneys assist pharmacy owners and supervising pharmacists (e.g. consulting pharmacists, pharmacists in charge, and prescription department managers) who are under investigation or facing disciplinary action for alleged violations related to a pharmacy inspection. Our entire legal team is dedicated to defending licensed professionals full-time and regularly work with DOH, LARA, BOP and DEA to resolve licensure matters.
We understand the hard work it takes to manage a pharmacy, and we want to help pharmacy owners and pharmacy managers protect their pharmacy license and permits. Our attorneys are passionate about the defense of health professionals and work aggressively to help their clients protect their license, career, assets and reputation.
Please contact our pharmacy law attorneys if you believe your pharmacy is under investigation or is subject to a pharmacy inspection.