June 27, 2022 – Washington, DC – Today, the Center for U.S. Policy published the following
statement in response to the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Ruan v. U.S.:
Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Ruan v. U.S. case is much-needed good
news. People with conditions like pain, opioid use disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and
insomnia will have better access to medically necessary treatments because prescribers
will no longer have to worry about being federally prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned
for conduct that is not intentionally criminal.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously ruled that, to convict a licensed and registered
prescriber for Controlled Substances Act (CSA) violations, the federal government must
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the prescriber knowingly or intentionally acted not
“as authorized.” To be authorized, a prescription must be issued for a legitimate medical
purpose by a licensed and registered prescriber acting in the usual course of his or her
professional practice. Therefore, under the Ruan decision, to secure a CSA conviction
against a licensed and registered prescriber, the government must prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that the prescriber knew that there was no legitimate medical purpose
and that the prescriber knowingly or intentionally deviated from his or her usual
professional practice in prescribing the controlled medication.
The Ruan decision is also good for substance use disorder and drug poisoning prevention.
It is now less likely that people who need opioids and other controlled medications will
be relegated to the illegal market, where fentanyl lacing of counterfeit medications is
Swift and strong drug enforcement methods remain in place. Medical licensing boards
still have the authority to investigate and take corrective action against professionals who
improperly prescribe controlled substances. Similarly, people harmed by rogue
prescribers still have the right to pursue civil claims for medical malpractice.
In January 2022, our Chairman Michael C. Barnes; Senior Fellow Lynn R. Webster,
M.D.; and Stephen J. Ziegler, Ph.D., J.D., with the counsel of Ronald W. Chapman II,
Esq., filed an amicus brief advocating in favor of today’s decision. We thank our
colleagues for their support and congratulate them on the favorable and just outcome.
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