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Profiteers of Tragedy: Making Money Off America’s Opioid Addicts

The opioid epidemic has given rise to an illicit gold rush as patient brokers and treatment centers exploit desperate addicts, funneling them to shoddy treatment centers and fraudulent “sober” homes at a profit of thousands per head. The profiteering, unfolding in communities across the country, has bilked insurers out of millions and created a shady subculture that takes advantage of a vulnerable population. This webinar will explain how to report on such fraudulent treatment schemes, explore how they have taken root in communities across the nation, how the legal system is trying to curb the problem, and what a healthy addiction treatment model could look like.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 31, from 10-11 a.m. PT / 1-2 p.m. ET

Our distinguished panel includes:

Dave Aronberg was elected state attorney for Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit in November 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He is a former Assistant Attorney General, White House Fellow and Florida State Senator. As State Attorney, Aronberg leads a team of 120 prosecutors and 220 staff in five offices throughout Palm Beach County. Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force received national attention for targeting fraud and abuse in Palm Beach County’s drug treatment industry. Born in Miami, Aronberg graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He went on to work in the litigation department of a large South Florida law firm. Aronberg was elected to the Florida State Senate in 2002 and served until 2010. In 2010, Aronberg returned to the Florida Attorney General’s Office as a Special Prosecutor for Prescription Drug Trafficking.

Keith Humphreys is a professor and the section director for mental health policy in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He is also a senior research career scientist at the VA Health Services Research Center in Palo Alto and an honorary professor of psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London. His research addresses the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders, the formation of public policy and the extent to which subjects in medical research differ from patients seen in everyday clinical practice. Dr. Humphreys has been extensively involved in the formation of public policy, having served as a member of the White House Commission on Drug Free Communities, the VA National Mental Health Task Force, and the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He currently for the Washington Post's Wonkblog, where he focuses on addiction, drug policy, mental health and the criminal justice system.

David Armstrong is a senior enterprise reporter for STAT. Armstrong previously worked as an investigative reporter at Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe. He has written about the mistreatment of patients at one of the country's largest brain injury treatment facilities, fraud in the $300 billion pain industry, and the riches earned by medical entrepreneurs marketing dubious and dangerous procedures.

Evan Allen joined the Globe in 2011 as a freelance reporter covering the suburbs. She joined the staff in 2013, and has covered police, breaking news, and major events including the Boston Marathon bombings. She has also done investigative and narrative projects. Allen is now a member of the newsroom’s narrative team, where she focuses on crime.


Webinars are free and made possible by the .

 Presenters' slides:



Suggested Reading


, by David Armstrong, STAT, and Evan Allen, Boston Globe, July 7, 2017

, by David Armstrong, STAT, and Evan Allen, Boston Globe, May 28, 2017

 by David Armstrong, STAT, and Evan Allen, Boston Globe, September 29, 2017

inside five-star addiction treatment centers, by David Armstrong, STAT, and Evan Allen, Boston Globe, August 25, 2017

by Mass. over safety concerns, by David Armstrong, STAT, and Evan Allen, Boston Globe, August 25, 2017

by Dave Aronberg, Time, September 20, 2017

, NBC News, June 25, 2017

, by Teri Sforza, Orange County Register, September 11, 2017

by Teri Sforza,  Orange County Register,  July 21, 2017

Not for addiction treatment, by Teri Sforza, Orange County Register, June 23, 2017

The new gold rush. ‘It’s almost chic,’ by Teri Sforza, Orange County Register, June 21, 2017

, by Teri Sforza et al, Orange County Register, May 30, 2017 

 multiple authors, Palm Beach Post, multiple dates

by Fred Grimm,  Miami Herald, January 6, 2017

Other Resources


on the Proliferation of Fraud and Abuse in Florida’s Addiction Treatment Industry

, Marketdata Enterprises, Inc.

, by Keith Humphreys et al., American Journal of Public Health, January 2017, Vol 107, No. 1

by Peter D. Friedmann, M.D., M.P.H., Christina M. Andrews, Ph.D., and Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., New England Journal of Medicine, March 9, 2017

, by Keith Humphreys, Health Affairs, October 2015; Vol. 34, No. 10: 1624-1627

, by et al., Health Affairs, May 2015; Vol. 34, No. 5: 828–835

by Keith Humphreys; Substance Use Misuse,  2015; 50(8-9): 1024–1027

, by Anna Lembke, M.D.; Keith Humphreys, Ph.D.; and Jordan Newmark, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; American Family Physician, June 25, 2016;93(12):982-990

by Colleen M. Grogan, Christina Andrews, Amanda Abraham, Keith Humphreys, Harold A. Pollack, Bikki Tran Smith, and Peter D. Friedmann, Health Affairs, Vol. 35, No.12 (2016):2289-2296


Join us on April 23 for insights and suggestions from physician and author Dr. Sunita Puri that will deepen your understanding and coverage of palliative care and end-of-life issues. Sign-up here!


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