Prescription Forgeries

Prescription Forgeries happen more often than many people realize.

Only qualified physicians and nurses are allowed by the law to write a prescription.

Also, pharmacists must keep a file of all the prescriptions they fill.

Unfortunately prescriptions are sometimes forged.

This happens because many narcotics are sometimes cheaper as prescription drugs than as street drugs.

There are many types of forgery. The most common ones include:

  • stolen prescription pads,
  • altered amounts on legitimate prescriptions,
  • falsified call back numbers,
  • faked phoned or faxed prescriptions.

There are measures in order to make the process of photocopying a prescription more difficult.

That is why prescriptions pads contain security measures similar to the ones used on bank checks.

In many US states, only certain state approved printers may print prescription pads.

Also prescribers may be required to write the dosage and quantities in words beside numbers.

Other prescriptions for certain classes of drugs come in “triplicate” form, individually numbered.

One copy remains with the medical practitioner, one copy goes to the pharmacist and the third one is submitted by the pharmacist to a regulating agency.

The regulating agency will issue a list of forged prescriptions that can be checked by the pharmacists.

Newer security measures include the background of the prescription printed with the repetition of the word “void” in color. This one is impossible to copy and will show as black when photocopied.

Other security measures include anti-copy watermarks, anti-copy coin rubs and invisible fluorescent fibers.

Prescription blanks with thermochromic ink are now commonplace.

Thermochromic Ink is ink that changes color when different temperatures are applied to it. Simply rubbing your finger over the ink will make it change color or make it temporarily fade away.

This type of security feature is very hard to forge.

A good example of something that is thermochromic is a mood ring.

A mood ring changes color based on contact with different temperatures.

Pharmacists can call the medical practitioner to verify any prescription they suspect of forgery.

Doctor-patient confidentiality rules no longer apply in the case of forgeries.

Penalties for forging prescriptions vary from state to state. However, the jail time can range from 5 years to life and fines start at $10,000. 

According to the United States Department of Justice, there are different "Types of Fraudulent Prescriptions:

Pharmacists [and pharmacy technicians] should be aware of the various kinds of fraudulent prescriptions which may be presented for dispensing.

  • Legitimate prescription pads are stolen from physicians' offices and prescriptions are written for fictitious patients.
  • Some patients, in an effort to obtain additional amounts of legitimately prescribed drugs, alter the physician's prescription.
  • Some drug abusers will have prescription pads from a legitimate doctor printed with a different call back number that is answered by an accomplice to verify the prescription.
  • Some drug abusers will call in their own prescriptions and give their own telephone number as a call back confirmation.
  • Computers are often used to create prescriptions for nonexistent doctors or to copy legitimate doctors' prescriptions."

The source for the above quote is:

Each state in the United States has different laws regarding the physical paper that prescriptions are written on. The CDC weighs in: "For example, California law states,

The prescription forms for controlled substances shall be printed with the following features:

  • (1) A latent, repetitive “void” pattern shall be printed across the entire front of the prescription blank . . .
  • (2) A watermark shall be printed on the backside of the prescription blank; the watermark shall consist of the words “California Security Prescription.”
  • (3) A chemical void protection that prevents alteration by chemical washing.
  • (4) A feature printed in thermochromic ink.

  • (5) An area of opaque writing so that the writing disappears if the prescription is lightened.
  • (6) A description of the security features included on each prescription form."

The source for the above quote is:

I would expect the state of California to have less of a problem with forged prescritpions, however, prescription fraud happens in every state no matter how many safegaurds are in place.  California may be the state with the most stringent requrements for prescription forms, but I am sure there are others states which have strict laws in this regard as well.

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