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60 medical professionals were indicted on Wednesday for issuing more than 350,000 illegal pain pill prescriptions, the Washington Post reports.

Details: The investigation used undercover informants and agents to infiltrate medical practices — including 31 doctors, 8 nurse practitioners, 7 pharmacists and 7 other medical professionals — in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia. Those indicted reportedly exploited their licenses to sell opioids in exchange for money and sexual favors.

  • According to the newly unsealed case documents, the charges include unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances by a medical professional as well as health care fraud, per the Washington Post. Each count carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence, and some defendants are up against multiple counts.

The big picture: This case falls within an extensive Justice Department pursuit to rid the nation of the ongoing opioid epidemic. Last year, the DOJ charged 162 defendants for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics. Meanwhile, more than 1,500 cities, counties, Native American tribes and unions have filed lawsuits with major drug companies in a massive civil case.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.