MECOSTA, OSCEOLA, LAKE COUNTIES — The Michigan State Police is continuing to take steps toward combating what has become known as the “opioid crisis.”

Earlier this week, the MSP announced the creation of a new task force, the Diversion Investigation Unit (DIU), which investigates medical professionals suspected of illegally distributing controlled substances, including opioids.

Investigations conducted by DIU already have resulted in charges for two medical professionals, with other cases pending statewide, according to the release.

The charges included counts of healthcare fraud and manufacturing illegal prescriptions, among others.

“We evolve as crime does,” Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP, said. “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.”

Along with the creation of DIU, Michigan’s law enforcement and government officials are taking other steps to decrease the amount of prescribed medications containing opioids.

Among these steps was the implementation of the Michigan Opioid Laws in June 2018.

This state mandate requires prescribers to follow several steps before writing a prescription for a controlled substance containing an opioid, such as discussing the potential risk of addiction and overdose and how to properly dispose of an expired, unused or unwanted controlled substance with the patient and consulting the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) if writing a prescription for more than three days, among others.

MAPS provides real-time prescription data and resources to better assess a patient’s risk for substance use disorder, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

For more information about opioids and methods for preventing addiction and overdose, visit michigan.gov/opioids.