Sci-tech

Attorneys General seeking answers in opioid epidemic

Attorneys General seeking answers in opioid epidemic”

Healey, a Democrat, said Tuesday she is asking eight companies for information related to their marketing practices and involvement with industry organizations that market opioids.

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.

On Sunday, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that many insurance companies limit access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.

"Highly addictive opioid drugs have destroyed families, robbed children of parents and robbed parents of children", Schuette said.

PurduePharma was the exclusive focus of a previously announced investigation.

"This gives hope to families and friends who have lost loved ones", said Joanne Peterson, executive director of Learn to Cope, a support network for families dealing with addiction.

The attorneys general are subpoenaing documents to determine what role the opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in the opioid epidemic - for example, through misleading marketing or downplaying the addictive quality of the drugs.

Two weeks ago, a congressional committee issued a report alleging that Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc.

The company has denied the allegations and criticized the investigations and legal challenges for lacking "context and factual accuracy".

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. According to state figures, 1,981 MI residents died from drug overdoses in 2015, with opioid-related deaths quadrupling since 1999.

MA has been particularly hit hard.

Essex County reported 285 opioid-related deaths past year, according to state data.

Dozens of local and state governments have already filed, announced, or publicly considered lawsuits against drugmakers or distributors, according to the Associated Press.

Still, public health officials say the number of opioid-related deaths in MA fell about 5 percent in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier. "And every day, in this state, we lose five more". The FDA is one of them, manufacturers and distributors are heavily regulated.

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



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