Federal prosecutors in Texas announced Wednesday that 58 people had been charged in connection with assorted health care fraud schemes revolving around the illegal distribution of more than six million opioid pills.
The Justice Department said that those charged include 16 doctors or other medical professionals, while 20 people were charged in connection with diverting opioids.
The investigation involves alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud and so-called "pill mill" clinics. Prosecutors said the fraud resulted in losses of $66 million.
The scheme allegedly involved billing federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid as well as private insurance companies for "medically unnecessary prescription drugs and compounded medications that often were never even purchased and/or distributed to beneficiaries," according to the Justice Department.
Authorities said the counts are related to fraud, conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and illegal distribution of controlled substances.
“The data in our possession shines an inescapable light on those dirty doctors, clinic owners, pharmacists and others who may have long believed that they could perpetuate their fraud in the dark, behind closed doors,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski in a statement.
Prosecutors say the charges are part of a statewide coordinated health care enforcement operation similar to a Houston-area drug trafficking network sweep about three weeks ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.