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Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit Investigation used to Combat Growing Prescription Opioid Epidemic

The Department of Justice (DOJ) United States Attorney General, the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and the Northern District of West Virginia recently announced that five Pennsylvania physicians were indicted on charges of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances, conspiracy, and health care fraud. The physicians all worked as contractors for Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC an opioid addiction treatment practice with offices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The charges stem from an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit investigation that used data to target and prosecute the individuals that allegedly committed opioid-related health care fraud. These newly-formed units are part of a DOJ-led initiative that combines personnel and resources from several Federal Government and state agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic.

Pennsylvania Physicians Face Buprenorphine-Related Fraud Charges

Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC operated several Suboxone clinics in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. Suboxone, also known as Subutex, is the name for the drug buprenorphine that physicians use to treat individuals with addiction. The indictments allege that the defendants worked as contractors at various locations and created and distributed unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine. The defendants were also charged with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine and health care fraud for allegedly causing fraudulent submission of Medicare or Medicaid claims.

The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the counts charging unlawful dispensation of Schedule III controlled substances. The conspiracy charges provide for a 10-year maximum imprisonment and a fine of $1 million for each count to unlawfully dispense a Schedule III controlled substance. Finally, the law provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each of the counts charging health care fraud. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines state that the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

The investigation was conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. The Unit combined resources from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing, among other agencies.

The full DOJ press release is available at:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/five-pennsylvania-physicians-charged-unlawfully-distributing-buprenorphine-and-defrauding.

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