In response to the proliferation of street sales of prescription drugs, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Texas have begun to crack down on medical clinics that distribute pain medication to patients. As Houston residents are aware, privately funded medical clinics staffed by doctors, physician’s assistants and/or nurse practitioners can be found in strip malls throughout the Houston area. Many of these small medical clinics play a valuable role in offering people an affordable treatment alternative to costly hospital visits for non-threatening medical concerns. However, if operated unscrupulously, these clinics can also serve as a distribution point for highly addictive pain medications such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), alprazolam (Xanax), carisprodol (Soma) and codeine. Sometimes referred to as the “Houston Cocktail,” the combined effects of Vicodin, Xanax and Soma can produce in consumers a powerful and addictive high.
Given the high concentration of private medical clinics in Houston, our city has become a focal point of the law enforcement crackdown on the distribution of these substances.
Over the course of the past two years, law enforcement has become increasingly aggressive in the manner in which they investigate medical clinics. Gone are the days when authorities would conduct patient chart audits, administrative suspension hearings, or meetings to voice concerns about troubling prescriptive or patient traffic patterns. Now, intervention in medical clinics is more akin to the raid of a fortified drug kingpin’s stash house. Medical clinics are swarmed by masked and fully armed law enforcement personnel wearing bulletproof vests and raid gear. The agents come bearing broadly worded search warrants authorizing them to remove all types of documentation and patient files along with the very cabinets that contain them. The people who are the targets of these raids often are surprised to learn that the government will also seize their cash as well as all funds located in any of their personal or business bank accounts. Health care professionals are frequently pressured by raid personnel to surrender their licensing and prescriptive credentials under the false assertion that cooperating with law enforcement also requires that they give up their livelihood.
The Downey Law Firm has represented doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, clinic owners and employees who have been the unfortunate targets of these clinic raids. We are familiar with the licensing and certification requirements for clinic personnel. We are well versed in the federal and Texas regulations regarding the operation of medical clinics. We can quickly evaluate the legality of search warrants, asset forfeiture lawsuits and arrest warrants. We can help clinic operators get their documentation back from law enforcement and protect their licensing. The Downey Law Firm also maintains a strong working relationship with several attorneys who are Board Certified in Health Law who can assist our clients in any licensing matters arising before the Texas Medical Board. If you are a healthcare professional in need of legal representation, call the Downey Law Firm. A top Houston defense attorney will offer the expertise, assistance, and support you need.