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State Attorney General subpoenas opioid manufacturers, distributors

State Attorney General subpoenas opioid manufacturers, distributors

A state drug task force recently reported the number of opioid deaths in Wisconsin has gone from about 50 in 1999 to close to 400 in 2015.

State Attorney General Josh Stein held a press conference Tuesday to announce that a multi-state investigation by 40 attorneys general will examine four more drug manufacturers as well as companies that distribute painkillers.

The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas for documents and information, also known as Civil Investigative Demands, on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental Civil Investigative Demand on Purdue Pharma. "The status quo, in which there may be financial incentives to prescribe opioids for pain which they are ill-suited to treat, is unacceptable".

"Too often, prescription opioids are the on-ramp to addiction for millions of Americans", Schneiderman said.

Healey's office is working with 38 other attorneys general as part of the investigation, though she declined to say if they've found any evidence of wrong-doing to this point.

"The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency", President Trump said in August.

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However, five weeks later, the administration has yet to make an official declaration about a national emergency on the opioid epidemic. None of these states is involved in the broader multistate investigation.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that prescriptions for opioids in SC roughly exceed the total state population.

In 2007, Purdue and three of the company's executives pled guilty to federal charges of misleading doctors, patients, and regulators regarding the risk of addiction associated with OxyContin, but attorneys claim that the legal battle did little in the way to curb Purdue's alleged wrongdoings.

Still, as the state attorneys general and other community leaders note, the slowdown in prescriptions has been offset by greater demand for cheaper alternatives such as heroin.

"In 2015, health care providers wrote enough opioid prescriptions to medicate every American around the clock for three weeks, and on the average day, more than 650,000 opioids prescriptions are dispensed in the USA", wrote the Attorney General's Office.

The pharmaceutical industry already faces dozens of lawsuits brought by cities, counties, and states - including Ohio, Missouri and Oklahoma.


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