Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday (July 13th, 2017) 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.”
“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.”
How Do Opioid Scams Work?
In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses. In 2016, that number climbed to 59,000 Americans.
Sign up to get our free newsletter in your inbox daily.
Today, the opioid crisis happening in the United States can no longer be ignored. Here’s how it happened:
- Pharmaceutical companies also conducted self-seeking research projects in order to distribute inaccurate data to doctors and researchers.
- These companies then proceeded to convince physicians and other pharmacists to sell their drugs, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, which are very addictive. (The latest one to hit the market is fentanyl and is extremely dangerous.)
- Unsuspecting doctors then overprescribed the meds to the poor and elderly and billed the federal government. (Hospitals in disadvantages areas were strategically targeted for this scam, perhaps on the hope that the less educated were more likely to take their doctor’s word for it. According to the Center for Disease Control, whites earning between $20,000 and $50,000 were the most affected.)
- The masterminds behind this unlawful scam paid representatives who helped them increase their sales. (For example, in West Virginia alone, 780,000,000 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills were sold between 2007 and 2012!)
- 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. (One of such companies was Purdue, a company that has earned $35 billion dollars from Oxycontin alone. The pharmaceutical company’s owners, the Sackler family, made a net worth of $14 billion at the end of 2015.)
Largest Health Care Fraud Takedown
“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.”
This isn’t going to solve everything but it’s a good start.