What is a Legend drug and what is a Legend drug charge?

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What is a Legend drug and what is a Legend drug charge?

Asked on March 31, 2017 under Criminal Law, Indiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A legend drug is also called a prescription drug. These are drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that are required by law to be dispensed to the public only on prescription of a licensed physician or other licensed provider. A legend drug can be a controlled substance (narcotic) or non-narcotic. Violation of the law can result in a "legend drug" charge.

What Is A Legend Drug, and Why Do People Use it?

One of the most important things to know about legend drugs is they are approved by the FDA. As such, patients who meet certain standards can get a valid prescription from a medical practitioner. Legends on these drugs commonly say things like "Rx only" and longer variants of the same message.

Non-legend drugs like Tylenol or Advil are not considered in this field. Legend drugs can sometimes be habit forming, and they are strictly controlled. Whatever your reasons for taking them, a licensed professional is required to record and keep track of your use. 

Common schedule V drugs, which are considered narcotics, include cough syrups with codeine. These, again, can be habit forming. They are only meant to be used with strict limits. In some cases, experts only recommend them for short-term use in the United States.

What Is A Legend Drug Charge?

A licensed practitioner who prescribes legend drugs should practice care in diagnosis and monitoring. Even with milder drugs, they require a prescription for a reason. For various reasons, some people obtain these drugs illegally. Sometimes, it's because they do not have access to a doctor. Other times, it's because they do not medically qualify for the drug in question.

You might hear of law school or medical students using Adderall to study. While generally considered illegal, cocaine has valid medical uses. When distributed without a prescription, users and dealers can be prosecuted for possession with intent to distribute, sales, and use. Depending on the severity of crime and the courts overseeing the case, it could lead to a felony punishable by years of jail time.

Some of the popular sedatives are commonly used in veterinary medicine. Others are only used in people. Whatever the case, the criminal proceedings can be life changing.

Do Legend Drugs Have Other Consequences?

The term covers a wide range of drugs with different uses and consequences. Not all abuses are treated the same way. The medical consequences are the same. They vary widely. In some cases, side effects are uncommon and are mostly related to allergies or overuse. In other cases, the abuse of the drugs could lead to long-term disability or even death. Some show up in blood components for hours or weeks after use. 

A drug abuser may be sent to rehab. Some may also get deals for turning on their dealers. Small dealers may get deals for turning on bigger deals if they're connected. If they're in the medical field, they could lose their license for possession and use or illegal distribution. This includes professionals from a licensed doctor to medical technicians and medical assistants. It also includes drug manufacturers and drug reps. Anybody illegally distributing these drugs could be charged and face life-altering consequences. Depending on the drug, this could include overprescribing or inappropriate prescriptions. For example, you probably wouldn't expect a podiatric physician to be sending patients home with morphine.


Some drugs also cause social consequences. The secrecy and behavioral effects of some of these drugs can tear social relationships apart. Without a licensed health care professional to monitor use, many patients don't know when to stop or seek help.

What Should You Do If You've Been Caught with Legend Drugs?

These drugs typically have valid medical purposes. When used appropriately, possession of legend drugs isn't a problem. If you're caught with doses that were not obtained legally or distributing, you could be in serious trouble.

If you're charged or detained, you have the right to a criminal defense attorney in the United States. Even if the charges seem mild, it is advisable to seek out professional support. This affects both your sentence and charges that can go on your permanent record. Even if you get community service or time served, a felony can be a permanent black mark that could prevent you from getting jobs or otherwise disrupt your life.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue your case on your behalf. They might bring up things like your social ties to the community or the fact that you may be a first-time offender. Most importantly, an attorney can advise you on plea deals and the best ways to minimize your sentence if convicted.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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