Attorney General Maura Healey said her office, along with dozens of other state attorneys general, is now homing in on more than a half-dozen manufacturers and distributors as part of a probe into opioid marketing, including pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma and several distributors. They also demanded information from opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc. According to the complaint, OxyContin accounts for approximately 25 percent of spending nationwide across the entire prescription opioid market. Tennessee is leading the group of 41 attorneys general participating in the multi-state investigations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015 including 736 in Alabama, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
"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.
Attorneys general contend incentives promoting use of non-opioid techniques will increase practicality of medical providers considering treatments including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and non-opioid medications, the release said.
In a statement Tuesday, the Utah Attorney General's Office announced it had signed on to investigative subpoenas and demand letters to a number of drug manufacturers.
"We lost over 1,100 Virginians to the opioid crisis just previous year, and everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to ensure we don't lose another life to this devastating epidemic", said Attorney General Mark Herring.
Many doctors, in turn, said they were assured by the drug makers that the opioids were less addictive, or not addictive.
Now, the state prosecutors say they will examine whether the industry was complicit in creating the epidemic, and whether it should now be responsible for helping pay for the damage caused to many communities. Seventy-five people died of opiate overdoses in Vermont during 2015.