Prosecutors Deployed to Fight U.S. Drug Abuse Epidemic

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

Twelve federal prosecutors will be sent to cities plagued by drug addiction to investigate health care fraud and opioid scams, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.

The pilot program is meant to combat the nation's drug abuse epidemic, the Associated Press reported.

"In recent years some of the government officials in our country I think have mistakenly sent mixed messages about the harmfulness of drugs," Sessions said. "So let me say: We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally unto this kind of rampant drug abuse. We must create a culture that's hostile to drug abuse."

The prosecutors will analyze data in an attempt to identify doctors and other health care providers who illegally prescribe or distribute powerful opioid painkillers, the AP reported.

The drugs are a major factor in the nation's deadly drug overdose epidemic. A record 215,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2015.

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