States Banding to Investigate Opioid Sellers

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 04, 2017

Does the pharmaceutical industry have a responsibility to pay the huge costs of the painkiller crisis? States are fighting back. Read more.

The attorneys general of 41 U.S. states are banding together to investigate the marketing of prescription painkillers — and possibly pin costs of the opioid crisis on the industry.

The coalition issued subpoenas seeking information from eight companies. The goal: to establish whether they deceived the public or doctors about the risks and effectiveness of the drugs.

The industry lobbying group PhRMA didn't issue an official response to the state attorney generals. Drugmakers already face lawsuits brought by more than 20 U.S. states, counties, and cities.

In May, for example, Ohio sued five major drug companies, accusing them of misleading doctors in order to increase sales.

States normally don’t comment on ongoing investigations, but made an exception this time to help the public understand the dangers of opioids sooner rather than later.

The latest probe of the pharmaceuticals industry could lead to a national settlement, if the industry cooperates — and the settlement could address industry practices for the future.

The tide has been shifting in the right direction: Doctors are writing fewer opioid prescriptions and cutting the average dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New federal restrictions have brought prescriptions down since the peak in 2010. But there’s much further to go in cutting prescriptions, and states are dealing with the fall out. More than 2 million Americans have an opioid disorder.


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March 31, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA