Attorney General Josh Stein is joining 40 other state attorneys general in an expanded investigation of five opioid manufacturers and three opioid distributors, he announced in a Tuesday press conference.
The investigation will look into how the companies may have contributed to the national opioid epidemic through their business, advertising and marketing practices.
Approximately 1,600 North Carolinians died of drug overdoses last year, making it the number one cause of accidental death in the state, Stein said. That’s nearly four a day. According to the latest data, one in 100 newborns in the state begin life with opioid dependency.
“A crisis of this magnitude deserves our attention,” Stein said Tuesday.
That means more funding, more education and treatment, Stein said – but it also means looking carefully into the origins of the epidemic.
“As millions of Americans were becoming addicted to prescription pain killers and communities were struggling to respond to this crisis, drug companies were reaping enormous profits,” Stein said.
“Our investigation will determine whether the drug manufacturers and drug distributors unlawfully created and fueled this crisis,” Stein said. “And if they did, I will hold them accountable.”
The expansion of the investigation, which began earlier this summer, will include Purdue Pharma, Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan and distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.
Stein was joined at Tuesday by a half-dozen people with expertise in and personal knowledge of the opioid epidemic and its costs. They included Nashville, NC Police Chief Thomas Bashore, N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen and Dr. Ashwin Patkar of Duke University Medical Center. Read more