Informal Settlement Conference
In most cases, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy will invite the pharmacist or pharmacy licensee and their attorney to an informal settlement conference. Ideally, an informal conference allows the licensee and their attorney to present their case and respond to the allegations which have been raised by Board Staff. At the end of the conference, cases are often resolved through either a dismissal or a proposed Board Order, the terms of which vary dependent on the type and severity of the allegations. Achieving a successful result at an informal conference with the Texas Pharmacy Board is highly dependent on proper preparation and the presentation of the pharmacist or pharmacy licensee and their attorney, so it is important to have a qualified Texas license defense attorney represent your case in these situations.
Informal settlement conferences (also known as ISCs) take place in Austin at the Texas Pharmacy Board’s offices in the William P. Hobby Building and are scheduled to occur over a two to three day period each month. Each individual conference can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours or more depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the questioning of the ISC panel. The ISC panel always consists of four individuals, three of whom are Board Staff (employees of the Board), and one Board member. These are the Pharmacy Board’s Executive Director, Director of Enforcement, General Counsel, and a Board member selected on a rotating basis.
How Informal Settlement Conferences Work
Informal conferences with the Texas Pharmacy Board open with a presentation of the allegations and evidence by a Board attorney. Following this, attention turns to the licensee and their attorney to respond to the claims and present rebuttal evidence. At the close of the informal conference, the ISC panel will deliberate in private and then call the licensee back into the room to announce their proposed resolution. Informal conferences are confidential and are not open to the public.
At informal conferences with the Texas Pharmacy Board, an additional factor can come into play for pharmacists working for large chain pharmacies. Pharmacists employed by corporate pharmacies are often told they will be represented by a company retained attorney at the informal conference. The problem is that this same lawyer is probably also representing the pharmacy whose interests or version of the events may not coincide with the pharmacist employee. As the corporate pharmacy, and their attorney, is there to primarily protect their own license, the blame for a possible violation, such as drug diversion or loss, is not infrequently placed on the pharmacist. Texas Pharmacists for large chains should know that they have the right to retain their own pharmacy board attorney who is there to safeguard only their interests, not the pharmacy’s.
The window of opportunity for a licensee to make a positive impression with the informal conference panel and achieve a successful result is very narrow. This is where the careful preparation and presentation of rebuttal evidence and, most importantly, the Texas pharmacist or pharmacy’s verbal response and ability to concisely, clearly, and credibly answer the panel’s questions proves decisive. An informal conference is not like any other legal proceeding, not even a mediation or arbitration, and is its own animal unique to administrative law. In most cases, the Texas Pharmacy Board panel will take the initial stance that the allegations are true and it is up to the licensee and their attorney to disprove them. At times, particularly when faced with serious allegations, the Pharmacy Board panel can be quite critical of the licensee and engage in heated lines of questioning.
In any case, an experienced pharmacy board attorney knowledgeable of the applicable law and able to successfully navigate the informal conference process can prove to be invaluable. If you are facing an informal settlement conference, contact the Texas license defense lawyers of the Leichter Law Firm today at 512-495-9995 for effective, experienced representation.