- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The D.C. Attorney General announced on Monday that a multi-state coalition of attorneys has asked for documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids as part of an effort to hold companies accountable for the opioid epidemic.

“State attorneys general almost never announce the existence of investigations before they are completed, but the opioid crisis is a uniquely dire situation,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a press release Monday.

“Deaths from opioid overdoses are skyrocketing across our country, and the District is no stranger to that trend. We are looking into what role, if any, marketing and related practices might have played in the increasing prescription and use of these powerful and addictive drugs.”

The bi-partisan coalition of attorneys general was first announced in June, shortly after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against five drug companies for fraudulent practices in selling opioids and contributing to the staggering amount of deaths in that state.

While the District hasn’t seen some of the more shocking numbers of other states like Ohio and West Virginia, overdose deaths from opioids are increasing in the District, with 216 overdose deaths in 2016 compared to 114 in 2015 and 83 in 2014.

Across the U.S., over 64,000 people have died from an opioid drug overdose in 2016.

For the bipartisan investigation, D.C. has joined Tennessee as lead investigators into whether pharmaceutical companies engaged in unlawful practice in marketing opioids to consumers.

It’s unclear how many states and which ones are involved in the effort, although Hawaii, New York and Pennsylvania have also announced they joined the initiative.

“Although we are not identifying any specific targets of our investigation at this time, if we turn up evidence that marketing practices played an unlawful role in the exponential growth of opioid prescriptions, rest assured: We will take action,” Attorney General Racine said.

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