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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2018

Iowa part of multistate opioid probe

Sep 20, 2017

Gazette Des Moines Bureau


DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said Tuesday he has joined a bipartisan group of state attorneys general investigating the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs as part of a widespread probe into the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The 40 states, plus the District of Columbia, served investigative subpoenas for documents and information, also known as civil investigative demands, on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, and Allergan, and served a supplemental civil investigative demand on Purdue Pharma, according to Miller’s office.

“The opioid epidemic is nothing short of a public health crisis that kills dozens of Iowans every year and more than 100 people a day nationwide,” Miller said. “Beyond those numbers, this epidemic profoundly impacts affected patients, their families, our communities, and our health care system,” Miller added. “As state attorneys general we can collaboratively use the law to investigate the cause and scope of this problem, and we can work together to help address it.”

The attorneys general previously launched an investigation of Purdue Pharma. Miller’s office announced the multistate investigation in June, though at the time did not name the firm.

The states also are seeking documents and information about distribution practices from three pharmaceutical distribution companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — which together manage about 85 percent of the nation’s opioid distribution.

The information that state attorneys general seek will enable the states to investigate and evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids, Miller’s office said in a news release.

Nationwide, opioids — prescription and illicit — are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths across the U.S. in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

In Iowa, a state Department of Public Health report issued in March indicated there have been “significant increases” over the last decade in the number of Iowans identifying heroin and opioids as their drug of choice when they began seeking treatment, and in the number of overdose deaths.

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