Opioid Crisis Brings Increased Federal Focus on Prosecuting Health Care Fraud

August 4, 2017 by Stephanie C. Courter, Of Counsel
Opioid Crisis Brings Increased Federal Focus on Prosecuting Health Care Fraud
 
The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday the formation of a new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the new unit, which is part of a pilot program, will utilize data analytics “to identify and prosecute individuals who are contributing” to the opioid epidemic. The Department will also fund additional prosecutors tasked specifically with investigating and prosecuting opioid-related health care fraud. 
 
The prosecutors’ work will include targeting and prosecuting doctors, pharmacies, and medical providers who, according to Attorney General Sessions, “are using this epidemic to line their pockets.” Twelve districts throughout the United States will participate in the program, including:
 
  1. Middle District of Florida,
  2. Eastern District of Michigan,
  3. Northern District of Alabama,
  4. Eastern District of Tennessee,
  5. District of Nevada,
  6. Eastern District of Kentucky,
  7. District of Maryland,
  8. Western District of Pennsylvania,
  9. Southern District of Ohio,
  10. Eastern District of California,
  11. Middle District of North Carolina, and
  12. Southern District of West Virginia.
The new directive from Attorney General Sessions signals a renewed focus by the Department to prosecute traditionally white collar offenses, like health care fraud, if they can be linked to the larger drug epidemic. Doctors, pharmacists, and others involved in prescribing and dispensing opioids should continue to be diligent in their efforts to comply with applicable federal and state laws and should consult counsel if they have questions or in the event they are contacted by law enforcement.

For more information on the implications of the Department’s guidance, contact Stephanie Courter, Bob Cochran, or another member of Ice Miller’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Team.

For more information on the state and federal laws that govern prescription drugs, contact Sherry Fabina-Abney, Myra Selby, or another member of Ice Miller’s Health Care Team.

For additional information on the Department of Justice’s new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, see www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-sessions-announces-opioid-fraud-and-abuse-detection-unit.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 


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