Apr 17, 2019

60 medical professionals indicted in sweeping opioid bust

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

Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health