The U.S justice department has announced the creation of a pilot program named the opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit that will help combat the country's opioid crisis. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has selected 12 districts that will participate in a pilot program. Sessions also announced that his department would provide funding to twelve experienced Assistant U.S Attorneys for three years who will investigate and prosecute opioid-related health care fraud cases. The prosecutors will work in close collaboration with the FBI, DEA, HHS and state and local partners to target doctors, pharmacies, and medical providers engaging in the illegal trade.

Current U.S opioid trade

According to sessions, 80 percent of heroin addicts in the U.S started their addiction with prescription drugs. Early this month, more than 400 people were arrested including 50 doctors, for opioid related crimes. U.S investigators also seized a large dark market website named Aplhabay that was suspected to have sold the drug illegally. A 13-year-old from Utah who died from an opioid overdose was suspected to have died from purchasing the drug from the site. Several doctors have also pleaded guilty to operating clinics that illegally sold the drug.

In January this year, a doctor from New Albany confessed in court to using his clinic to traffic drugs. In April this year, A doctor from Portmout confessed to having used his clinic to distribute controlled substances for six years.

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Sessions comments

According to the justice department website, Sessions stated that the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit would collect data to identify physicians with high opioid prescription rates as compared to their peers. The unit will also gather information such as the number of patients per doctor who will die due to opioid prescription, the opioid deaths hotspots, the average age of patients receiving opioid medications among other data.

Sessions also noted that 4,000 residents of Ohio died last year as a result of drug overdose. There was also a 66 percent jump in overdose deaths last year in Colombus. He also mentioned that 52,000 Americans died in 2015 due to a drug overdose. Last year, 60,000 Americans died of drug overdose. Last year's figure was the largest figure ever recorded in the history of the country.

Sessions stated that opioid addiction cost the country $78 billion a year while addiction to other drugs cost the country $193 billion every year. He also noted that drug trafficking in the southern border had gone down since Trump's inauguration, yet the border wall has not yet been built.