Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More Harassment from DEA

A few days after the audit I started getting voice mails (2) from a DEA auditor asking when I would like to meet to go over the "findings" growing out of The Audit. I ignored them and set Google Voice to block all numbers associated with the local DEA office. The auditor emailed me (He told me my number had been disconnected. Thanks for confirming the call blocking feature works!), this time asking if we could meet the next day (10.29). I faxed a terse letter to his boss that morning (last Friday) telling him he could send any comments or questions in writing.

That same Friday morning, as I waited for a new patient to finish her paperwork, my office manager informed me the auditor above and another male from DEA had just appeared in the waiting room.(They did not present a warrant.) Furious at this presumptuous invasion of my office  I called the Seattle field office. Apparently they got the message that he was wasting his time (and our tax money). After they received a phone call they left.

I filed a formal complaint with the US Attorney. I attempted to have them charged with criminal trespass by local police, but the police refused to interfere with an ongoing "investigation." I have contacted the ACLU. I figure at a minimum DEA has violated my right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and the privacy rights of both myself and my patients, not to mention the patients of my office mates.

I don't recall that it was a requirement of DEA registration that I allow these thugs unrestricted access to my office, which I regard as my castle. If that's the case they can so inform me, and I will decide whether I might prefer to continue my practice without DEA registration. (Other than buprenorphine I only prescribe controlled substances to 4 patients, one with schizophrenia who takes clonazepam to prevent seizures related to clozapine, a couple of patients with ADD who take methylphenidate, and one buprenorphine patient who takes pregabalin (Has anyone heard of addiction/abuse associated with that drug?). Partly because most of my patients are usually recovering addicts/alcoholics I have convinced myself that I can handle almost any case without controlled substances. Hey, it could even help me market my practice.

I'm fed up with the harassment I apparently must endure to prescribe buprenorphine, and have allowed my buprenorphine practice to shrink since early this year anyway. I could retire. I would have time to picket in front of the local DEA office. At least one other physician I no of has said he will stop prescribing the drug because of DEA harassment.

My plan if another auditor shows up in my office without a warrant: Depending on whether patients are present I will call 911 or ignore them and maybe leave. I don't know whether my office mates have enough nerve to demand they leave if they present when I am not there.

When I spoke to the auditor at the field office while the two auditors were in my office I made her aware that I expect DEA to communicate with me in writing. She told me that's not the way they do things. Fine. If DEA wants to have a meeting, "their way," they can meet without me.

Five days have passed since I faxed my request for the findings from my audit in writing. So far I have received nothing, but this makes the third time DEA has ignored my letters. These are public servants?

1 comment:

  1. I admire your courage. I used funding for administrative matters in my medmal policy to have a lawyer do some of what you did. I researched the law a bit, and the agents were acting under the regulatory powers given to them by Congress. Thus, the reluctance of the local police to act. They are less concerned with prescribers of buprenorphine than with dispensers of such. There have been reports of abuse and deaths on that medication, especially in Europe. However, the DEA should be respectful of practitioners seeking to reduce addiction. They may get aggressive with practitioners who have killed several patients due to carelessness or greed. They should wait to get reports of harm, and focus their efforts on those doctors causing it.

    I told my inspectors, both black, they were being used to deter treatment of black folks with expensive, brand medication, that allowed them to strive, to rebuild, and to regather their lost families. There would be no problem if my patients were dopey looking and achieving nothing on methadone.