Mass. AG's Office Announces Coalition To Fight Illegal Opioid Prescribing

State and federal agencies are banding together to crack down on doctors and pharmacists believed to be responsible for illegally over-prescribing opiates, and contributing to the state's opioid epidemic.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the vast majority of doctors in the state are doing the right thing when it comes to properly prescribing painkillers to their patients. Still, she says there are some who are illegally, unlawfully prescribing prescription pain medication.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Healey said her office will now work closer with other agencies -- including the state auditor, the FBI and the DEA -- to identify and go after the offending doctors.

"And that's going to lead to more prosecutions, more investigations and ultimately, the end to illegal and unlawful prescribing practices in this state," she said.

“By working together, we can effectively target those individuals who are contributing to this growing epidemic,” Harold Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, said at the press conference.

Healey said just last month, a doctor was charged with illegally prescribing opioids to patients who had documented substance use problems.

More than 1,000 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts in 2014. And according to a release from Healey's office:

In Massachusetts alone, there were 4,664,391 prescriptions for Schedule II and III opioids in 2014. That is a prescription for nearly every adult in Massachusetts.

With reporting by WBUR's Steve Brown and the WBUR Newsroom



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