U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker stresses scrutiny for prescribers

Category: opioids, prescription drugs, prescription drug abuse

U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker stresses scrutiny for prescribers


Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was in Nashville on Thursday discussing the new DOJ Appalachian Regional Opioid Strike Force.

As we wrote about recently, this new Strike Force is designed to directly target physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professions who over-prescribe or improperly prescribe opioids through otherwise legal channels. The Strike Force, which will be based in the U.S. Attorney's office in Nashville, will use advanced data analytics and support from DOJ’s criminal Healthcare Fraud Unit to coordinate the efforts of the main federal investigative entities like the FBI, HHS-OIG, DOJ, as well as their various federal law enforcement agencies.

In addition, yesterday the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts issued letters to physicians who had prescribed opioids to a patient within 60 days of death or who subsequently died from an opioid overdose, warning them that their prescribing practices “have been identified as a source of concern.”

As Whitaker made clear during his visit, DOJ is focused on reducing the number of prescription opioids by one-third in the next three years, stating that one of the major causes of the opioid crisis in the first place is over-prescribing and citing to a statistics that 3 out of 4 heroin addicts started on prescription opioids.

While the results of these efforts have yet to be seen, the message from the DOJ is clear: the focus is on prescribers and providers of otherwise legal prescription opioids. Acting AG Whitaker's trip to Nashville only underscores this focus.

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