(Natural News) The federal government has finally taken action against some of those who are contributing to our country's opioid epidemic and committing medical fraud in what the Department of Justice is describing as the biggest health care fraud crackdown in our nation's history.
The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced charges last week against a total of 601 defendants in an action against health care fraud. Among those charged were 76 doctors, 23 pharmacists, and 19 nurses who were implicated in prescribing or distributing either opioids or other narcotics.
In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions took a dim view toward those abusing their patients, saying: "Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients — vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs."
These medical personnel, they say, have contributed to this devastating epidemic, stealing tax dollars and flooding the streets with drugs. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called the perpetrators "despicable and greedy people" in a press conference.
Doctors and other professionals acting irresponsibly around the country
They point out that they've charged nearly 200 doctors, along with 220 other medical personnel, since January 2017 in crimes related to opioids. It may not sound like much – and it's certainly just a fraction of those committing these deadly acts – but the DoJ said that 16 of these doctors prescribed over 20 million pills illegally.
One defendant defrauded Medicare out of $112 million by giving out 2.2 million doses of fentanyl and oxycodone needlessly. Stopping even just a few of these doctors could well save countless lives. CNBC reports that more than 42,000 people died in the U.S. from opioid overdoses in 2016.