Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a new Department of Justice pilot program to utilize data to help combat the devastating opioid crisis that is ravaging families and communities across America.
Speaking at the Columbus Police Academy today, Attorney General Sessions said that the new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit will focus specifically on opioid-related health care fraud using data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to this prescription opioid epidemic.
Additionally, as part of the program, the Department will fund twelve experienced Assistant United States Attorneys for a three year term to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting health care fraud related to prescription opioids, including pill mill schemes and pharmacies that unlawfully divert or dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes.
The following districts have been selected to participate in the program:
- 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.
In his speech, the Attorney General discussed the new program:
“First, I am announcing a new data analytics program – the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. 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.
“With this data in hand, I am also assigning 12 experienced prosecutors to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting opioid-related health care fraud cases in a dozen locations around the country where we know enforcement will make a difference in turning the tide on this epidemic. These prosecutors, working with FBI, DEA, HHS, as well as our state and local partners, will help us target and prosecute these doctors, pharmacies, and medical providers who are furthering this epidemic to line their pockets. These prosecutors will be based in several states across the country, including Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and right here in Southern Ohio.
“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.”