Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced to the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children on Tuesday that he formed a new task force that is going after opioid health care fraud as part of the Trump administration’s battle against drug addiction.
The new task force, dubbed the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, will focus solely on opioid related fraud within the health care system using data analysis.
“Fraudsters might lie, but the numbers don’t,” Sessions said. “We are putting every would-be fraudster in America on notice that they cannot hide. We will find them and we will bring them to justice.”
The specific data analysis that the task force is set to use will focus on several key metrics to identify sources of opioid abuse.
“They can tell us which physicians are writing opioid prescriptions at a rate that far exceeds their peers,” Sessions stated. “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 highlighted the aggressive action the Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking to combat the opioid epidemic by noting that in July the department arrested 400 defendants for health care fraud, 50 of whom were doctors charged with opioid-related crimes – the largest such action in U.S. history.
“Just a week after those 400 arrests, we announced the seizure and take down of AlphaBay— the largest dark net marketplace takedown in history,” Sessions noted. “This site hosted some 220,000 drug sale listings and was responsible for countless synthetic opioid overdoses, including the tragic death of a 13 year old in Utah.”
Sessions also mentioned that based on preliminary data for 2016, an estimated 60,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses.