year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launched an interagency taskforce
that included federal and state law enforcement officials and the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to tackle the opioid crisis. On
June 28, the Attorney General and the Secretary of HHS announced
that the taskforce had successfully taken action against 601 charged defendants
across 58 federal districts, including 165 physicians and other licensed
medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud
schemes involving more than $2 billion in false billings. The charges stemmed
from the fraudulent billing of Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and private
insurance companies for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded
medications that often were never even purchased and/or given to beneficiaries.
The charges also involved individuals contributing to the opioid epidemic, with
a focus on medical professionals involved in the unlawful distribution of
opioids and other prescription narcotics. Of those charged, 162 defendants,
including 76 physicians, were charged for their roles in prescribing and
distributing opioids and other narcotics.