Health Law Highlights

What to Learn From DOJ’s First Telehealth-Prescribed Controlled Substances Case

Summary of article from Husch Blackwell, by Jonathan Porter:

On June 13, 2024, the Justice Department arrested two executives of Done Global Inc., a digital health company, marking the first criminal case against telehealth executives for allegedly causing illegal prescriptions of controlled substances. The charges include a drug dealing conspiracy, a healthcare fraud conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Key lessons from the case include the importance of adherence to state and federal laws when prescribing controlled substances via telehealth, the risks of restricting prescribers’ access to patients and incentivizing prescriptions without follow-up evaluations, and the potential for prosecution under a drug-dealing conspiracy rather than the Anti-Kickback Statute. The case also highlights the potential challenges of proving such charges, particularly in light of the 2022 Supreme Court Ruan case, and the illegality and risks of deleting documents during an investigation. Despite this case, telehealth remains a valuable practice, but healthcare innovators should be mindful of the risks associated with restricting the physician-patient relationship.