In some respect, doctors, pharmacists, and certain other medical professionals have the legal authority to do what ordinary Philadelphia residents do not. That is, they may legally prescribe and help dispense federally controlled substances. When people outside the medical industry engage in this behavior, they may face allegations of federal or state drug crimes, which could land them in prison for years if not decades. However, in the wake of the opioid crisis, authorities are paying closer attention to how doctors and others are using, or abusing, their special privileges.
For instance, federal authorities can charge a doctor with a violation of the drug trafficking laws of the United States if they believe the doctor was prescribing controlled substances, like opioids, to patients without a legitimate medical reason for doing so. Oftentimes, prosecutors will accuse doctors of conspiring to provide these drugs to patients knowing full well that the patients intend to collect them and then sell them on the streets. Some doctors and medical professionals in the area, including at least one nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania, have found themselves facing federal charges of late that are similar to the ones described above.