Skip to Main Content

WASHINGTON — Federal agencies on Thursday announced charges in what Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “the largest health care fraud takedown in American history,” an investigation into over $2 billion in alleged fraud by doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.

Many of the allegations centered on illegitimate opioid prescriptions. The Justice Department charged 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for their roles dispensing opioids and narcotics, the result of investigations spanning 30 state Medicaid programs and numerous enforcement agencies.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

  • I agree with all of these comments, thank you all for your information! Now if the right people would read it…..
    One more stat I just saw last night on 20/20, since 2006 to 2015, Road Rage has increased over 500%!!! Why doesnt anyone get involved with these stats and deaths caused by road rage? That’s 3000 lbs plus missile coming at you, on purpose too!
    They need to emphasize drivers education. Revoke license.

    All these problems out there and they had to create one???
    Pain patients didn’t cause this crisis! We are just ones to blame and be punished so the general public thinks government is “doing something”, not.
    A lot of these issues fall on Patient Responsibility & Accountability.

    • People living with severe pain 24/7 are easy to deal with. We don’t have the energy nor the organization to deal with broad accusations. Patients with pain are not responsible for current drug problems. These problems make us victims and give us more pain.

      It’s amazing there has been such large scale fraud going on with U.S. manufactured drugs. When there is money to be made, someone will figure out a way to make it. People with pain aren’t involved. Once again, people with pain are victimized by new hard regulations for meds. Good, honest doctors pay a price for crooked people using pain for profit. Good, honest patients pay a dear price of pain for the greed of others. DOJ needs to deal with crooks while protecting a million people with genuine intractable severe pain diseases and injuries. Go for the bad guys while helping Americans with the misfortune of 24/7 pain.

  • Sessions ought to be ashamed of himself. Opiates are cheap to produce and highly effective and highly safe when taken as rx. they don’t generate big $$ so the government is trying to move patients off of proven reliable opiates into dangerous and expensive alternative treatments that never are going to work as well as opiates. Part of this evil campaign is to declare an ‘opaite crisis’ and to equate rx pain medicine, with illicit fentanyl and heroin. Then they lie to the country and say they are “fighting against drugs” when the real victims are chronic pain patients. This is as bad as government overreach hypocrisy and greed get. ROTTEN

    • There is a huge difference between illicit street drugs that are taking the lives of youth and addicts, and legal prescription pain meds that give relief to a million people. Illegal killer drugs are not the same as legal meds.
      The government has used terms interchangeably. MSM has followed suit. Prescription drugs don’t kill 100 people daily — nor weekly — nor monthly. The OD rate for genuine pain patients is less than 0.02%. Most of these deaths are suicides by patients who have had their meds cut or denied and the pain is more than they can bear. Imagine severe pain 24/7/365. You can’t sleep. You can hardly get out of bed to get to the bathroom. The pain brings nausea. You lose weight and strength. There is no end in sight. There is no hope. The end.

  • Absolutely Duane. So while we wait for all the new biologics to be fast tracked, they take legit pain patients off their meds so they’ll be desperate enough to try anything. And that anything will make them a ton of money.

    But how many patients will be left by the time those meds hit the market? Intractable pain is horrible, and right now “pain management” pushes people to have dangerous injections (ESI’s) with a medication that was never approved for that purpose… But if you don’t accept the injections, they kick you out of pain management without telling you that the ESI’s can cause a disabling condition on their own! It’s insane.

    I’m glad the push is on to legalize marijuana, but that doesn’t take care of every kind of pain. If actual doctors were making policies they would know that. Smh

  • This just another example of over zealous anti-opioid agency over reach paving the way to justify states to file big pharma lawsuits for big $$$$. Physicians/Nurses and Patients are being sacrificed for a #painforprofit agenda. This is another effort to manufacture public consent for big money for research, recovery centers, Suboxone, grant money for research, injection mills, legalizing marijuana to collect tax dollars as opioids generate no profit margin, corporate entities control the market, and campaign contributions to politicians from data mining companies. Now patients are officially a liability if they report pain or ask for pain relief. There is not much sincere compassion for other addicts getting recovery for other drugs- why the big focus on opioids? Investment firms are now buying up “recovery centers” and flipping them for big profits while “quality of care” is reduced. FDA rejects safer higher dose medication- quite possibly the biggest anti-trust crime of the century at worst and a rampidly corrupt slippery slope at best.

    • There is a huge difference between illicit street drugs that are taking the lives of youth and addicts, and legal prescription pain meds that give relief to a million people. Illegal killer drugs are not the same as legal meds.

      The wrong people are being blamed. People in pain aren’t making money off this. We’re lucky to be alive.

  • I believe what the government is doing through Justice, The DEA, HHS, and other agencies see some physicians who prescribe high dosages of opioids. The problem is, they have no idea as to what the patient’s needs are, and why they might be on such a high amount. Justice and their DEA agents put so many compassionate physicians who want to help and lessen their patient’s pain, yet are afraid to do so, for fear of scansions. Further, the March 2016 CDC Guidelines for Opioid Prescribing, had some significant mistakes in it, and they took two years to correct their error. How many citizens are no longer with us because of the delay.

    Still, the CDC Guidelines, even the March 2018 amended one is incorrect in stating the 90 MME should be the high end of opioid prescribing. Yes, a physician can go higher with an opioid dose but must entirely have strong clinical reasons for doing so.

    I need to give credit to Pat Anson of Pain News Network for printing in the September 2017 newsletter the following information. PNN did a survey of over 3,000 patients and nearly 300 healthcare providers.

    40% believe CDC guidelines have been harmful to patients, while only 22% consider them helpful
    67% believe guidelines have made it harder for pain patients to find a doctor
    63% believe the guidelines have not improved the quality of pain care
    66% believe guidelines have not been effective in reducing opioid abuse and overdoses
    35% of providers are worried about being prosecuted or sanctioned for prescribing opioids

    I would like to see our government and the different agencies slow down and realize that opioid prescribing has been declining for years. The overdose and suicide rates have increased on a rapid climb. Perhaps it will be seen that cutting legitimate chronic pain patients to lower levels will not stop people from dying. Many because of not being able to obtain legal medications, and feel the next step is heroin or taking their own life.

    Will those who have put these strict prescribing guidelines in place, one day realize in trying to correct a problem, they have helped to kill many more people?

  • Sessions said medical providers look at suffering people and see dollar signs and take advantage. He didn’t say that is what Congress is for. Limit doctors to a set amount of scripts based on patient demographics so one doctor can’t write more subscriptions than patients he could reasonably see. And even then not all patients would need opiods.

    • If they had used common sense instead of relying on industry money, they would have done this years ago. It is kind of late now, there is a lot of money to be made by misdirecting the public. The latest is that the Steroid Manufacturers are asking to have their dangerous products replace opiates. Other Pharma products got lucky with this too. Steroids are proven to be dangerous, and are causing all kind of medical horror stories, but they are not covered by mass media. Welcome to the Kleptocracy, this does not have to make any sense, only benefit a few wealthy corporations. Didja know the AMA decided years ago, not to take continuing Education on prescribing opiates. You won’t read that on this site. Prescription medication has already been cut off to the point that a lot of people are suffering, and rethinking elective surgeries. People are choosing suicide over living with chronic pain. No Physicians spoke up when the VA started prescribing Anti Psychotics to injured Vets with chronic pain. Instead they all looked the other way.

  • Still going after the low hanging fruit, instead of the people who profited from this debacle. How about the Congresspeople who took money from the industry? In the meantime people with inures and Chronic Pain are left to consider suicide rather then effective pain control.
    The death rate continues to climb, since opiates are barely prescribed anymore, yet they continue looking where is is easier.

  • What does a patient do if his pain is so great that 90 mm eqlv doses does not help manage your pain lots of people who are heavy the dose doesn’t work so they must change their whole life to adhere to a CDC guidelines not in line with Hippocratic oath let doctors do what they need to do to treat chronic pain prosecute criminal diversion going through withdrawals to adhere to a beurocrat is senseless and dangerous. Many people are going to street drugs because not enough clinics for suboxone, method one etc open more access to this kind of treatment or there will be more deaths from the drugs coming from our open borders its just inhuman to take or reduce doses and force people into withdrawal’s when 90 mm morphine won’t cut it for long time opiate patients. Have a plan first before you subject millions of good people in legitimate pain for which pain meds are the difference between a horrible life with pain and the reduction of it as the main focus of your life .keep the CDC out of the relationship between docs and their patients.

  • Sessions dares to say that providers defrauded taxpayers of money meant for the health care of our troops? Oh, you mean the Veterans that the VA has systematically cut off of opioids and thrown to the curb? Those taxpayers? Or were you talking about regular taxpayers that have been forcibly taken off of their medications? No, it couldn’t be them… most of those people are on disability now, thanks to their inability to get potentially life saving medication and be productive members of society.

    I’d love to have the glasses that these officials are looking through, because they must be able to see some pretty trippy stuff. Left is right, up is down, and physical dependence equals addiction.

    What these idiots fail to see us that they are one step away from being in the same position that they have placed tens of thousands in, be it a car accident or autoimmune disease. Oh, that’s right, they’ll be able to have their opioids delivered while the rest of us suffer.

    Perhaps psychiatrists should roll back the Goldberg rule for these guys – anyone that cannot see that the rise in suicides is directly proportional to the lack of pain control, especially amongst our Veterans and now rising sharply in the general population, must be pretty sick in the head.

    • I totally agree with the comment by Audry Lynn. These paid-off idiots are causing tens of thousands of people who suffer chronic pain, unneeded suffering and expense. In addition to the fact that the opioid ‘crisis’ is due to street drugs, coming in from China through commercial ports of entry.
      Sessions and the DEA are doing more harm than good. They arnt really concerned about deaths from substance abuse because if that were the case, tobacco would be a class I drug. Look at the CDC stats to see the largest cause of deaths. And are they looking at GI bleeds from the NSAIDs that are available in every drug, grocery and convenience store anywhere? No. Because big pharma loves the profits and they pay so well.

    • What about alcohol, to me it’s just a legal mind altering liquid drug, very, very destructive. Slow suicide the way I see it. Takes many lives, ruins many families. Ruins ones body. How many drunk drivers killing innocent people. I don’t understand their thinking on this at all. It completely disgusts me.

Comments are closed.