HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rush's Doctors

As you are now probably more aware than you ever wanted to be, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host who recently had made headlines for his legal problems surrounding his addiction to oxycontin, was detained at U.S. customs and found to have a bottle of Viagra in his physician's name.  Setting aside Rush's potential legal problem, I did find it interesting that his attorney, Roy Black, stated that the  prescription was written in his doctor's name "for privacy purposes." I have never been offered such a service by my physician (and really haven't we all had some medications prescribed that we didn't want our names on)  . . .  and doesn't HIPAA already provide some privacy protection in this arena. . . .   

Well, it turns out the physicians may be in a little trouble for their help in protecting Rush's privacy in this manner.  Talkleft reports on a recent article in the Florida Sun-Sentinel  and quotes that paper stating:

Florida civil rules governing doctors and pharmacists require that the true patient's name and address are on the label, according to two attorneys and a Florida Medical Association spokeswoman.

Doing otherwise "is technically a violation of dispensing and prescribing by the doctor," said Allen R. Grossman, a Tallahassee attorney who defends physicians in disciplinary cases. Grossman formerly was general counsel to the Florida Board of Medicine, which licenses and oversees doctors.

TalkLeft continues by discussing the issue. 

           Other Florida experts, including those involved with professional and medical boards weigh in:

"The department is aware of it and we'll have more information on that later," board spokeswoman Thometta Cozart said. However, the three professionals said state civil rules forbid doctors from prescribing drugs without a name or under a third person's name, as a way to prevent people from passing medicine to others.

"That would be considered a fraudulent prescription," said Lisette Gonzalez Mariner, a spokeswoman for the Florida Medical Association, the trade group for doctors. "You cannot do that. It's not commonly done and that's illegal." Likewise, pharmacists cannot dispense drugs to someone other than the name on the prescription label or their representative, said attorney Edwin Bayo, a former general counsel of the Florida Board of Pharmacy licensing board.

On another issue, I haven't heard much about any potential insurance fraud concerns but there may be some problems with having someone else's name on your prescription with regard to insurance as well. [bm]

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