A bipartisan coalition of 39 state attorneys general, including Connecticut’s George Jepsen, have demanded information and documents from several manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs, including Stamford-based Purdue Pharma.
Jepsen said the attorneys general are pooling resources and coordinating across party lines to address the public health crisis.
Opioids – both prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide and in Connecticut. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is projecting that more than 1,000 people will die of opioid-related overdoses in Connecticut in 2017.
“This investigation will proceed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner,” Jepsen said. “If there have been violations of law, we will find them and work aggressively to address them.
“We also recognize that time is our enemy and that we should pursue all means to ease this crisis as quickly as possible,” he added. “For that reason, we have encouraged, and will continue to encourage, the pharmaceutical industry – both manufacturers and distributors – to engage constructively with the attorneys general towards meaningful agreements that may be achievable sooner than full scale investigations and litigation may permit.”
The coalition’s latest move targets pharmaceutical manufacturers Endo International, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc., and Allergan Inc.
A previously announced investigation by the coalition focused exclusively on Purdue Pharma. Jepsen said the group has also served a supplemental investigative demand on the Stamford drug maker.
“We share the attorneys’ general concern about the opioid crisis and we are cooperating with their request,” Purdue Pharma spokesman John Puskar said. “This is a multifaceted public health challenge, and we look forward to working collaboratively with government entities to be part of the solution.”
The attorneys general are also seeking documents and information about distribution practices from opioid distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, who together manage approximately 90 percent of the nation’s opioid distribution.
Meanwhile, Purdue Pharma – which earlier this month asked for the dismissal of a case against it filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine – has asked state of Washington U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to dismiss the city of Everett’s lawsuit against it. That suit seeks damages for what it alleges was the illegal marketing and distribution of OxyContin and other Purdue opioids.