Jeff Sessions unveils program to deal with opioid-related frauds
Breaking News Opioid Addiction Aug 04, 2017
Jeff Sessions unveils program to deal with opioid-related frauds

In an attempt to combat the opioid crisis in the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced a new pilot program within the Department of Justice. The new program, named as the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, will utilize opioid-related health care fraud data to identify and prosecute those involved in the illegal business.

The department will provide funding to a dozen assistant U.S. attorneys for a three-year term. These prosecutors will work with federal agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — as well as state and local partners to target and prosecute pharmacies and doctors fueling opioid-related health care frauds. Such a fraud may include illegal activities like pill mill schemes and dispensing or diversion of prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes.

In his speech discussing the new initiative on Aug. 2, 2017, Sessions said that the program would provide important information related to prescription opioids. It would provide the details of physicians who write a higher number of opioid prescriptions than their peers or the number of patients of a particular doctor who died within 60 days of an opioid prescription. Furthermore, the data will keep a record of pharmacies dispensing disproportionately large amounts of opioids, the average age of the patients receiving these prescriptions and regional hot spots for opioid problems.

“With these new resources, we will be better positioned to identify, prosecute, and convict some of the individuals contributing to these tens of thousands of deaths a year. The Department is determined to attack this opioid epidemic, and I believe these resources will make a difference,” the attorney general said.

The 12 districts selected for the program include Eastern District of Michigan, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Alabama, Eastern District of Kentucky, Western District of Pennsylvania, District of Maryland, Eastern District of California, Southern District of Ohio and Southern District of West Virginia.

Opioid crisis needs immediate attention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 52,000 Americans succumbed to drug overdoses in 2015. Significantly, 63 percent of overdose deaths were due to opioids that included prescription medications, heroin and synthetic drugs (fentanyl). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 80 percent people with heroin addiction started with prescription drug abuse.

While the Department of Justice has been working relentlessly to introduce prevention programs, awareness initiatives regarding treatment alternatives are needed too. Individuals with addiction should be encouraged to seek treatment from a reputed behavioral health care provider to enjoy a better quality of life. Remember that drug addiction can be treated with timely medical intervention. People with addiction need love and care of family and friends to overcome problems associated with substance abuse and mental health, which they truly deserve.

Hooked Sober is a source of information on drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and mental disorders. Please send your questions, concerns or comments to [email protected] or speak to a representative at 866-838-4087.

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