Doctors Accused of Trading Opioid Prescriptions for Sex and Cash – The New York Times

The indictments stem from four months of investigative work by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Task Force, a group of prosecutors, federal agents and data analysts that was created in December 2018 to find patterns suggesting that doctors were prescribing inordinately high numbers of pain pills, and then follow up with traditional law enforcement techniques, including the use of informants and undercover investigators.

Cases like this have been prosecuted before, including a Justice Department operation last June that resulted in charges against 162 defendants, including 76 doctors, for fraudulently prescribing and distributing opioids. Those cases were handled within the larger health fraud unit at the Justice Department.

The Appalachian task force is different, Mr. Benczkowski said in an interview, because it is aimed at corrupt medical professionals, rather than users, and is “doing it in a region of the country that is probably the hardest hit.”

Officials said they were taking care to make sure the patients of people indicted in the investigation would get help.

“When a doctor who has been prescribing opioids is arrested and his customers show up to find the clinic shuttered, public health and safety officials will be on site to get those folks the kind of help and treatment that they need,” Benjamin C. Glassman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said at the news conference.

“Enforcement and treatment are both critical, as of course is prevention, if we are to turn the tide of this opioids crisis,” he said.


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