Opioid crackdown nets scores of doctors and pharmacists

Hundreds charged over $2bn healthcare fraud
Fraud

Scores of doctors, nurses and pharmacists in the US have been charged with healthcare fraud in a coordinated operation across the country.

The US Department of Justice has announced charges against 601 healthcare workers for their role in the systemic fraud that resulted in more than $US2 billion in losses.

The department alleged the fraudulent prescribing and distribution of opioids contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic in some cases, Reuters reports.

The arrests came as part of what the department said was the largest healthcare fraud takedown in US history that included prescribing and distributing opioids.

"Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients — vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs," US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said.

The defendants are spread across dozens of states and are alleged to have taken part in hundreds of different conspiracies.

The cases include charges in Texas against a pharmacy chain owner and two other people accused of using fraudulent prescriptions to fill bulk orders for more than one million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills that were sold to drug couriers.

"The perpetrators really are despicable and greedy people," US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

The justice department also announced other cases unrelated to opioids, including schemes to bill the government healthcare programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, along with private insurers, for medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications.