WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Investigators were trying to determine Tuesday whether Rush Limbaugh violated a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case when authorities found he had a bottle of Viagra that was apparently prescribed to someone else.
Limbaugh, 55, was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport after he returned on his private plane from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Customs officials found Viagra in his bag, but his name wasn't on the prescription, Palm Beach County sheriff's spokesman Paul Miller said.
Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, said the prescription was written in Limbaugh's doctor's name "for privacy purposes." The conservative radio host was released without being charged and investigators confiscated the Viagra, which treats erectile dysfunction.
Limbaugh joked about the search on his radio show Tuesday, saying Customs officials didn't believe him when he said he got the pills at the Clinton Library and he was told they were blue M&Ms. He later added, chuckling: "I had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it."
It is generally not illegal under Florida law for a physician to prescribe medication in a third party's name if all parties are aware and the doctor documents it correctly, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the state attorney in Palm Beach County. He would not discuss specifics in the Limbaugh case Tuesday.
The sheriff's office was continuing its investigation and would soon turn the case over to prosecutors, Edmondson said. The alleged violation could be a second-degree misdemeanor if Limbaugh's doctor doesn't confirm the prescription.
Under last month's deal with prosecutors, authorities will dismiss a "doctor shopping" charge if Limbaugh doesn't get arrested for 18 months, among other terms. Prosecutors had said he illegally deceived multiple doctors to get overlapping painkiller prescriptions. Limbaugh denied the charges but admitted he was addicted to painkillers.
This latest case may simply be dismissed if prosecutors can confirm with Limbaugh's doctor that the prescription was indeed for Limbaugh, said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in Florida.
"It's perhaps a little embarrassing but not highly incriminating," Coffey said.
In addition, possession of Viagra is in a "completely different universe than a matter that would involve Schedule Two (controlled) substances such as OxyContin" Coffey added.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Viagra is not considered a controlled substance because "it's not something you can be addicted to," said DEA Investigator Maria Gilbert.
The Food and Drug Administration oversees regulations concerning non-addictive drugs that are not considered controlled substances, Gilbert said. A telephone call to the FDA was not immediately returned Tuesday.