CINCINNATI (AP) - Federal authorities say they have charged 60 people, including 31 doctors, for their roles in illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous drugs.
The action announced Wednesday in Cincinnati and Washington resulted from the federal Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force and includes defendants in at least seven states. They are Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Authorities say the 60 include a total of 53 medical professionals tied to some 350,000 prescriptions and 32 million pills.
Christopher Nelson, M.D., of Louisville's Bluegrass Pain Consultants, is facing charges of conspiracy-kickbacks, offering or paying health care kickbacks, conspiracy of health care fraud, and health care fraud of inflated compounded drug prescriptions.
Bluegrass Pain Consultants was raided in 2018 as part of the federal investigation.
U.S. health authorities have reported there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, for a rate of 21.7 per 100,000 people. West Virginia and Ohio have regularly been among the states with the highest overdose death rates as the opioid crisis has swelled in recent years.
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