Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dimond

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dimond

Article excerpt

Anyone remember when President Donald Trump declared America's escalating epidemic of opioid addiction "a national health emergency" that is ripping families apart? The October announcement may have gotten lost given the sheer amount of Trump news, but that declaration allowed the government to designate federal funds to fight the deadliest drug crisis this country has ever seen.

More than 90 Americans die of opioid overdoses every single day.

For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.

In 2016, there were more than 64,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S.

Apparently, the Department of Justice has found the money and manpower it needs to begin to tackle the problem.

The department formed the Opioid Fraud and Detection Unit in August, which has tapped into a broad range of national databases and other drugrelated resources. The unit was able to identify 12 regional hotspots in most need of help.

The analytic team has now begun to share with federal prosecutors which doctors in their region seem to be prescribing suspicious amounts of opioids, the age of their patients, how far the patients traveled to see the physician and whether any patients died within two months of getting their prescriptions.

In addition, the new DOJ unit has been able to pass on clues about which pharmacies appear to be dispensing excessive amounts of opioids.

This new trove of information allows investigators to zero in on suspicious people and places.

Indictments have already been issued.

The DOJ also has tapped into the workforce at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to help control the drug threat.

HHS has already moved to strip licenses from hundreds of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and operators of pain clinics known to have engaged in drug diversion and pharmacy fraud schemes. …

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