The Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against 412 people for $1.3 billion in health-care fraud, the largest such takedown in US history.
The investigation focused on doctors who authorities say were prescribing unnecessary opioids and medical facilities that preyed on addicts to shell out cash for unnecessary treatments that only worsened their condition.
The people facing charges include six MI physicians reportedly accused of a plan to prescribe unneeded opioids and a Florida drug rehabilitation facility that allegedly recruited patients with "gift cards and visits to strip clubs", according to the AP. Casualties are on pace this year to exceed 60,000, Sessions said.
The barely controlled pumping of hundreds of millions of doses of opioids into United States communities during the past decade is blamed for a sharp surge in addiction and overdose deaths which totalled an estimated 60,000 previous year.
Of the total nationwide, more than 100 suspects work as physicians and other medical professionals, who are charged with conspiracy and related offenses to defraud the massive government health insurance program.
"Preventing addiction is the most important thing we can do", Sessions told reporters, advocating a return to programs that had good results in the 1980s and 1990s, and that treatment seems the least effective option. "Don't get started, and you won't get addicted".
Asked if he was saying that the same strategies used to combat street drugs in the 1980s can be used to combat the prescription opioid epidemic, Sessions did acknowledge that the "prescription problem is different".
Reversing overdoses by itself is not enough, Price said, citing the story of a fire station in West Virginia that administered the overdose reversal medication to a young woman three times in a single day, because she was never sent to a treatment center.
Over 300 agents from the HHS Office of the Inspector General were involved in the crackdown, along with 30 state Medicare fraud units and 370 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.