If you've been in healthcare or worked around the opioid crisis for a length of time, you've probably scratched your head at why doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals are targeted for prosecution by law enforcement, while the pharmaceutical industry keeps making billions of dollars from opioid sales, serves fresh cookies at trade shows and hawks the idea that the prescription drug epidemic is everyone else's fault. We've certainly wondered.
Well, a highly illuminating and very troubling article in the Washington Post helps explain why this is: Pharma aggressively lobbied Congress to water down the DEA's ability to stop "suspicious shipments" of opioids from pharmaceutical manufacturers down the supply chain. Perhaps worst of all, the congressman who carried the bill (Tom Marino, R-Pa.) serves a district ravaged by opioid addiction, overdose and death. There's a word for what Congressman Marino did to his own people here.
The Post's article is worth reading in its entirety and can be found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/investigations/dea-drug-industry-congress/?hpid=hp_hp-banner-low_deanarrative-hed%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d187201ed46e
Plainly, to a great extent Pharma has legislated its way out of various types of liability for the crisis it helped create and from which it continues to profit extravagantly. But the federal government is cracking down on doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, and labs, through the Department of Justice's new Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Units. These 12 special units, operating nationwide in districts (counties) hard hit by the crisis, are staffed by experienced prosecutors and investigators who are focusing on billing data as a means of initiating criminal investigations and targeting doctors and other healthcare providers. See our first blog post for more about these units, and we will write in the future about them as well.
So, Pharma gets a walk, but the DOJ needs a target. Who's the easy choice? Doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, labs.
This is why it is so important for healthcare professionals to do for themselves what they advise their patients and customers: Get a checkup, a preventative look to make sure you are doing things the right way. We at ScripRight Healthcare Consultants, LLC offer just those services. Through our comprehensive look at a client's practice, we assess risk and determine compliance with the laws of opioid and other controlled drug prescribing. Then we build a safety zone for our clients (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, labs, insurers) within which they can practice sound medicine in a legally safe way. Call or write us. We're here to help!
Steve Meister and Shuli Suman, Owners and Co-Founders