MSP: Announces new task force on illegally prescribed opioids

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan State Police is announcing a new task force called the Diversion Investigation Unit.

DIU investigates medical professionals suspected of illegally distributing controlled substances like opioids.

In 2015, 11.4 million prescriptions for painkillers were written in Michigan, according to the states Opioid Addiction Resources website. That is roughly 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people. The website also says in 2017 there were more deaths from drug overdoses than car accidents in Michigan.

“We evolve as crime does,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. “This is a very real and potentially deadly part of the opioid epidemic. Prescribing medically unnecessary controlled substances pushes highly addictive drugs on to our streets impacting public and patient safety.”

Investigations conducted by DIU have resulted in charges for two medical professionals with other cases pending statewide.

Remona Brown of Lansing is charged with one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, one count of conspiracy to manufacture illegal prescriptions, nine counts of manufacturing illegal prescriptions and one count of healthcare fraud.

Arduth Burgess of Mason is charged with one count of manufacturing illegal prescriptions, two counts of possessing controlled substances, one count of healthcare fraud and one count of failing to keep records as well as one misdemeanor count of licensee prescription violations.

In June, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to create the Michigan Opioids Task Force, which brings together resources from across the state.

Courtesy: Michigan’s Opioid Addiction Resources Website

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