Healey expands investigation of opioid makers

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has announced that he has joined a coalition of 40 other state attorneys general seeking information from manufacturers of prescription opioids. “Did they mislead patients into thinking drugs were safe?.Did they ignore information that could have saved lives?” Madigan and the coalition served subpoenas requesting information from opioid manufacturers and distributors to evaluate whether these companies engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale and distribution of opioids. Healey said at a press briefing in Boston.

Healey, as part of a 39-member bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, said she is investigating manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Endo, Janssen, Teva and Allergan and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

The earlier investigation focused exclusively on Purdue Pharma, a company that several states – including New Hampshire have already sued – accusing them of deceptive marketing practices related to OxyContin. Did they know how addictive these drugs were when they sold them?

“We have the resources, expertise and legal authority to take on this fight, and we aren’t letting up”, Shapiro said in a statement. The investigation will also look into the distribution practices of AmerisourceBergan, CardinalHealth, and McKesson, which handle almost 90 percent of the nation’s opioid distribution. “This is a multifaceted public health challenge, and we look forward to working collaboratively with government entities to be part of the solution”.

Asked if there was any evidence of wrongdoing by the drug companies, Healey said the matter is still under investigation, so she is limited in what she can say.

“Some days I feel like we’re at the bottom of a mountain of sand with a lone shovel and each swipe brings another avalanche of victims”, said Joanne Peterson, founder of the group, Learn to Cope, which works with families of those battling addiction. According to state figures, 1,981 MI residents died from drug overdoses in 2015, with opioid-related deaths quadrupling since 1999. Teva’s USA subsidiary, Cephalon, manufactures many generic opioids. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 1,888 opioid deaths in 2016. It held its first organizational meeting on September 5.

Deaths from the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl continue to increase, even as the presence of heroin in opioid-related fatalities has declined.

“We need to figure out how this crisis happened”, she said, “so we can make sure it never happens again”.

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