The Department of Justice Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force or PIL is the entity that the federal government uses to fight the prescription opioid crisis. It calls for every criminal and law enforcement tool to be put toward fighting this epidemic. The main focus was meant to be on drug manufacturers and drug distributors, and the purpose was to significantly reduce the number of overdoses due to opioids.
The epidemic began because the pharmaceutical industry lied to physicians in the 1990s. According to the industry, opioid pain medications were not addictive, so physicians began to prescribe them at much greater rates. People began to misuse these medications, and it was clear that opioids were very addictive.
The Department of Justice has been engaged in this fight for several years, but the inauguration of the PIL helps by placing all of the government’s efforts for fighting the opioid crisis into one entity.
The federal government determined that it was time to act because in 2015 and 2016, American life expectancy decreased with 180 citizens dying of drug overdoses every single day. Drug overdoses are the number one cause of death amongst those under the age of 50. According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the U.S. couldn’t accept this reality, so his department decided to do everything that it could to reverse this trend.
How the PIL Works
The PIL aims its efforts at the opioid distribution system. It uses all criminal and civil remedies it can to arrest and try opioid manufacturers when they engage in wrongdoing. It also ensures that opioid manufacturers are honest in their marketing efforts and follow all of the rules put forth by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA. The federal government also assists local and state governments in their lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.
In addition to focusing on manufacturers, the Department of Justice turns its attention to the distributors of opioids. These targets include physicians, drug testing facilities and pain-management clinics that are involved in criminal activity.
The PIL has its eye on distributors and pharmacies so that it can ensure that both entities are obeying the DEA’s rules that seek to prevent unlawful opioid prescriptions. For example, the False Claims Act prohibits the false billing of the federal government, so the federal government uses this act to punish physicians, drug testing facilities and pain-management clinics that are engaged in prescribing opioids.
The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs that the federal government regulates into “schedules.” Opioids are under “Schedule II” on the list of Controlled Substances. This means that opioids are likely to be abused, and they have the potential to cause the user to develop a severe physical or psychological dependence. The federal government uses this law to punish pharmacies and physicians when they break the law.
The PIL strengthens the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to identify entities engaged in contributing to the opioid crisis. It also assists the Department of Health and Human Services in its efforts to identify and prosecute anyone involved with illegal opioid prescriptions.
In addition to that, Attorney General Jeff Sessions advised the PIL to create a group that would be in charge of the following:
Being Charged with an Opioid Crime
Being charged with opioid fraud, for example, may be very serious. It will depend on whether or not the charges are criminal or civil. If you can ensure that the investigation will remain a civil investigation, this will be much more advantageous to you. For example, you may be charged under the False Claims Act, and this would be a substantial charge. However, the penalties would not be as severe as they would be if you are charged criminally. A federal criminal charge may result in significant prison time.
If you have already been notified by the PIL Task Force, the next step that you need to take is to hire a defense attorney. It is very important that you do not wait until the federal government charges you with a crime. Your attorney will begin working on your case right away while the investigation is ongoing.
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