Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit
On August 2, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions 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. This new 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.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee was one of 12, out of 94 districts across the country, chosen to participate in this program. The district will receive funding for an Assistant U.S Attorney, for a three-year term, to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting healthcare fraud related to prescription opioids, including pill mill schemes and pharmacies that unlawfully divert or dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes. The 12 districts selected represent areas with a significant prescription opioid problem, where the Department of Justice can effectively investigate and prosecute the medical providers that are contributing to this epidemic by unlawfully diverting or dispensing opioids outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The Opioid Fraud and Abuse Unit was created to focus specifically on opioid-related healthcare fraud using data to identify and prosecute individuals that are contributing to this opioid epidemic. Data analytics will reveal important information about the prescription opioid problem, such as: which physicians are writing opioid prescriptions at a rate that far exceeds their peers, taking into account specialty and other factors; 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.
In addition to the Eastern District of Tennessee, other districts selected to participate in the program include: Eastern District of Kentucky; Northern District of Alabama; Middle District of North Carolina; Southern District of West Virginia; Middle District of Florida; Eastern District of Michigan; District of Nevada; District of Maryland; Western District of Pennsylvania; Southern District of Ohio; and Eastern District of California.