On Aug. 11, police arrested 39-year-old Anke Dannemann of the 9400 block of Garden Court in Potomac for prescription drug fraud.
Montgomery County Police say that Dannemann forged 24 prescriptions for the addictive drugs methadone, a synthetic opiate, and Provigil, a stimulant often used for narcolepsy patients.
Police charged Dannemann with 24 counts of prescription obtained by fraud, 24 counts of prescription obtained by forgery, and 24 counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
The maximum penalty for prescription fraud is up to two years in jail and $1,000 for each count, and the charge of forged prescriptions carries the same penalty. The maximum penalty for possession of a controlled substance is up to four years and $25,000 for each count.
A pharmacist at the Food Lion in the Wintergreen Shopping Center in Rockville contacted police investigators in June after looking through files and finding 24 suspicious looking prescriptions. Dannemann is suspected of stealing the prescription pad from her former doctor, who she has not seen in two years, according to police. She had been seeking medical treatment for pain management, police said.
Lt. Eric Burnett, director of media services for Montgomery County Police, said Dannemann stole her former doctor’s prescription pad, forged the signature and then had the pharmacy fill the orders. Burnett said that because there is only one person in the police department’s pharmaceuticals unit, pharmacists must take initiative to contact doctors and police if prescriptions look suspicious.
“Pharmacists should know that if a prescription comes in that doesn’t look right, it shouldn’t be filled a second time,” said Burnett. “They should be contacting doctors to verify that they’re actually accurate.”
DON MCMAMEE is a supervisory therapist for Adult Addiction Problems, a county-run program that treats alcohol and drug addictions for people over 18 years of age. He said that prescription drug fraud is “pretty prevalent” both because of over-prescribing by doctors and insufficient oversight by pharmacies.
“The system isn’t set up for [pharmacists] to know who is getting prescriptions from elsewhere, so you may have somebody getting four or five prescriptions from four or five different doctors in four or five different counties,” he said. “There’s really no way to track all that.”
What are the warning signs that someone may be addicted to prescription drugs?
“How fast a prescription is used up, whether the prescription’s being followed as prescribed, or if they’re going to more than one doctor,” said McMamee. “If they’re doing opiates or [anti-anxiety drugs], they may have a lot of sleepiness or inactivity/passivity or mood swings. If they’re detoxing from the drugs, they may show some mild symptoms of flu.”
McMamee said that the recovery process for methadone includes seven to14 days of detox and then Narcotics Anonymous meetings and support groups.
“It’s a long process to stay off of opiates,” he said.
McMamee said that the county justice system typically tries to work with people who are struggling with drug addictions.
“Generally when they go into the court system, most [judges] will put addicts on probation first and couple it with a requirement to attend treatment,” he said.