Investigators Use New Strategy to Combat Opioid Crisis: Data Analytics

Opioid crisis department of homeland security
Downtown Whitesburg, Ky. Of icials say the Justice Department’s data-driven approach has enabled a rapid expansion of the government’s ability to crack down on opioid overprescription in hard-hit states like Kentucky. PHOTO: ANDREW SPEAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Justice Department tracks prescription and billing records to find patterns of abuse in opioid epidemic

By Byron Tau and Aruna Viswanatha,
Mon August 26, 2019

When federal investigators got a tip in 2015 that a health center in Houston was distributing millions of doses of opioid painkillers, they tried a new approach: look at the numbers.
State and federal prescription and medical billing data showed a pattern of overprescription, giving authorities enough ammunition to send an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent. She found a crowded waiting room and armed security guards. After a 91-second appointment with the sole doctor, the agent paid $270 at the cash-only clinic and walked out with 100 10mg pills of the powerful opioid hydrocodone…