Some Background Guidance On Picking Issues In [Also: Health subcommittee to take up legislation to help providers, pharmacists, combat opioid epidemic ] "Today, we are opening a new front in the war on the opioid crisis by bringing all of our anti-opioid efforts under one banner," Sessions said by statement.  The task force will build on existing Department of Justice initiatives to ensure that opioid manufacturers are marketing their products truthfully and in accordance with Food and Drug Administration rules, according to the DOJ. [Also: Trump declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency ] There have been criminal prosecutions of doctors, dentists and pharmacists, Sessions said during the news conference.  Following up on what states have done, "We will look to see what civil actions we can undertake in the department," he said The work builds on that of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit that was created in August 2017. The unit uses data analysis to identify and prosecute individuals who are contributing to the opioid epidemic, including pill-mill schemes and pharmacies that unlawfully divert or dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes. In conjunction with the task force, the DOJ is filing a statement of interest regarding hundreds of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors brought by cities, municipalities, and medical institutions. The task force will examine existing state and local government lawsuits against opioid manufacturers to determine what assistance, if any, federal law can provide in those lawsuits.   The plaintiffs, and the DOJ, want to recover the costs associated with providing treatment and public safety measures from those who allegedly used false, deceptive or unfair marketing practices for prescription opioid drugs. In July, the attorney general announced charges against more than 120 defendants, including doctors, for crimes related to prescribing or distributing opioids and other narcotics. One week later, the attorney general announced the seizure of AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet, according to the DOJ. This site hosted some 220,000 drug listings – including more than 100 vendors advertising fentanyl – and was responsible for countless synthetic opioid overdoses, including the death of a 13-year old in Utah. In October, the Department announced the first-ever indictments of Chinese nationals and their North American-based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute fentanyl and other opioids in the United States. "Opioid abuse is driving the deadliest drug crisis in American history," Sessions said  "It has cost  this nation hundreds of thousands of precious lives. 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