While speaking at the Columbus, Ohio, Police Academy last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. The Unit is a pilot program, staffed by 12 U.S. Attorneys in select federal districts, that is designed to utilize sophisticated data tracking to detect and prosecute individuals that are contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Unit will specifically target so called “pill mills” — pharmacies that illegally divert and dispense opioids — along with doctors that prescribe the pills for profit.
The Unit’s 12 experienced U.S. Attorneys will serve three-year terms and will focus solely on prosecuting health care fraud related to prescription opioids in those areas hardest hit by the epidemic, including the Middle District of Florida, Eastern District of Michigan, Northern District of Alabama, Eastern District of Tennessee, District of Nevada, Eastern District of Kentucky, District of Maryland, Western District of Pennsylvania, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of California, Middle District of North Carolina, and Southern District of West Virginia.
Attorney General Sessions said of the program, “I have created this unit to focus specifically on opioid-related health care fraud using data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to this opioid epidemic. This sort of data analytics team can tell us important information about prescription opioids—like which physicians are writing opioid prescriptions at a rate that far exceeds their peers; how many of a doctor's patients died within 60 days of an opioid prescription; the average age of the patients receiving these prescriptions; pharmacies that are dispensing disproportionately large amounts of opioids; and regional hot spots for opioid issues.”
Sessions further noted that the U.S. Attorneys will be working hand-in-hand with the FBI, DEA, HHS, as well as state and local law enforcement, to “target and prosecute these doctors, pharmacies, and medical providers who are furthering this epidemic to line their pockets.”
The full text of Attorney General Sessions’ speech, along with additional details related to the Unit, can be found here.