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412 people charged over US health fraud schemes worth £1 billion

A total of 412 people have been charged in the US with taking part in healthcare fraud and opioid scams worth 1.3 billion US dollars (£1 billion).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the collective action the "largest healthcare fraud take-down operation in American history" and said it indicates that some doctors, nurses and pharmacists "have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients".

Among those charged are six Michigan doctors accused of a scheme to prescribe unnecessary opioids.

A Florida rehab facility is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards and visits to strip clubs, leading to 58 million dollars (£45 million) in false treatments and tests.

Officials said those charged in the schemes include more than 120 people involved in prescribing and distributing narcotics.

"They seem oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their greed.

"Their actions not only enrich themselves, often at the expense of taxpayers, but also feed addictions and cause addictions to start," Mr Sessions said in prepared remarks.

He said nearly 300 healthcare providers are being suspended or banned from participating in federal healthcare programmes.

The Justice Department said the people charged were illegally billing Medicare, Medicaid and the health insurance programme that serves members of the armed forces, retired service members and their families.

The allegations include claims that those charged billed the programmes for unnecessary drugs that were never purchased or never given to the patients.

AP

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