On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that federal prosecutors charged more than 400 people (doctors, nurses and pharmacists) for taking part in medical fraud and opioid scams that totaled $1.3 BILLION in fraudulent billing.
In total, 412 individuals will be prosecuted by his office in what’s been called the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.”
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“Among those charged are six Michigan doctors accused of a scheme to prescribe unnecessary opioids. A Florida rehab facility is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards and visits to strip clubs, leading to $58 million in false treatments and tests.
Officials said those charged in the schemes include more than 120 people involved in illegally prescribing and distributing narcotic painkillers.” 1
In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses. In 2016, that number rose to 59,000 Americans. Thanks to pharmaceutical companies who convinced physicians and other pharmacists that they had created drugs (like Oxycontin and Vicodin) that could treat pain but not be addictive, we are in the middle of a crisis.
And the other half of that crisis falls in the lap of the dishonest and greedy doctors, nurses and pharmacists who took part in the scheme. By overprescribing meds to the poor and elderly (and billing the federal government), targeting hospitals in disadvantages areas, and conducting self-seeking research projects in order to distribute inaccurate data to doctors and researchers,2 thousands of people have died or become addicted. (In West Virginia alone, between the years of 2007 and 2012, 780,000,000 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills were sold.)
“While there are rules which require drug distributors and pharmacists to report abnormal orders of controlled medications, regulators didn’t detect this loophole in their system.
In fact, this opioid scam, which has been in effect for at least ten years, didn’t come to light until disadvantaged and middle-class whites began dying in their numbers.” 3
This isn’t going to solve the problem but it’s a good start. We will continue to monitor this story and update you as we have more information.