Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ruan v. United States, which held that criminal liability under the Controlled Substances Act requires a prescriber of controlled substances to act knowingly or intentionally outside his or her usual professional practice, the Department of dropped criminal charges for the unlawful distribution of opioids in United States v. Rattini, et al.

In July 2019, an Ohio-based opioid distributor, Miami-Luken Inc.; two former executives, Anthony Rattini and James Barclay; and two pharmacists, Devonna Miller-West and Samuel Ballengee, were charged by a federal grand jury for conspiring to distribute controlled substances. Considering the criminal intent requirement set in Ruan, the government filed a motion to dismiss the indictment without prejudice and stipulation against all defendants. On August 11, 2022, the court granted the government’s motion to dismiss four of the five defendants, excluding James Barclay, who had pled guilty in December 2021. Subsequently, the government filed a motion to dismiss the superseding information and original indictment without prejudice for Barclay, and on August 26, 2022, the court granted the motion and vacated the previously entered guilty plea.

The case exemplifies how the Ruan decision could help eliminate doctors’ fears of federal prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment for conduct that is not intentionally criminal, paving the way for increased access to medically necessary treatments for people with conditions like pain, opioid use disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia.