A group of states joined forces to investigate the exact role of drug makers in the nation’s rampant opioid epidemic. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that the group has already issued subpoenas for certain documents, but the AG wouldn’t name the drug makers being investigated into.
Attorneys general from Vermont, Connecticut, and New York also joined in the effort.
Recent studies have revealed that Americans are taking opioid-based pain killers at a rate not seen in any other nation. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans were killed by drug overdoses, which represents a fourfold increase from 1999 levels.
In Massachusetts alone, around 2,000 people were killed by the epidemic in 2016, which represents a 17 percent increase from 2015 levels. Healey underlined that the epidemic has already morphed in a full-fledged public health crisis.
The AGs want to know whether drug makers used illegal marketing practices to shove more pain killers on people’s throats than necessary.
States Concerned Drug Makers Knowingly Fueled Opioid Epidemic
The states are also interested in learning what companies knew about the side effects and addiction risk of their products, and when they knew it. Investigators believe that some drug makers may have incentivized medics to prescribe their drugs for conditions where less-addictive drugs would have been just as effective.
Experts noted that marketing the products for more types of uses than absolutely necessary boosts profits but at the cost of worsening the deadly crisis. Attorneys General involved in the investigation are concerned some drug makers were fully aware of the addiction risk, but hoped that this way they would up their profits. This scenario proved to be real when to the tobacco industry was investigated.
If the companies are found complicit, they could be hit with civil lawsuits, fines, and even criminal charges in more severe cases.
Around 20 states have sued prominent drug makers such as McKesson Corp and Johnson & Johnson for their alleged role in fueling the opioid epidemic with borderline-illegal marketing practices.
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