Opioid crackdown involves scores of US doctors

More than 160 have been charged with fraud

Scores of doctors in the US, along with nurses and pharmacists, have been charged with healthcare fraud in a co-ordinated operation across the country.

Last week, the US Department of Justice announced charges against 601 healthcare workers, including 162 doctors, for their role in the systemic fraud that resulted in more than US$2 billion in losses.

The department alleged the fraudulent prescribing and distribution of opioids contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic in some cases, Reuters reports.

The arrests came as part of what the department said was the largest healthcare fraud takedown in US history which included prescribing and distributing opioids.

"Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients — vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs," US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said.

The defendants are spread across dozens of states