U.S. Supreme Court Recognizes Prescription Practices Outside the Norm Are Not Necessarily Criminal

The U.S. Supreme Court made it more difficult for the government to prosecute doctors for prescribing controlled substances in a decision issued on June 27, 2022.  In Ruan v. United States, No. 20-1410, the Court held that, to secure a conviction under the Controlled Substances Act, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant doctor knew or intended to prescribe a drug in an unauthorized manner.  It is not enough to show that the doctor’s prescribing practice deviated from a generally recognized standard of practice.  Instead, the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the prescribing physician subjectively knew or intended that his or her prescription was outside his or her prescribing authority.  The Ruan decision recognizes that proper medical care is individualized and that prescription practices falling outside the mainstream are not necessarily criminal.

The Healthcare Practice and White Collar Criminal Defense teams at Myers, Brier & Kelly, LLP regularly advise and defend physicians and other health care providers regarding prescription practices and complex professional liability matters.