State AG Perspective: Exposing the Truth – as attorneys understand the pharmaceutical industry

State AG Perspective: Exposing the Truth

Guest post by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, New York Attorney General Letitia James, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares

Today’s disclosure of more than a million documents from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the country’s most prolific opioid sellers, is an important step to expose the truth and prevent a manmade crisis like the opioid epidemic from ever happening again.

Drug companies profited by pushing dangerous prescription opioids, and Americans have become the biggest users of opioids in the world. Communities across our nation suffered the consequences as a result: addiction, overdose, and death.

Families most impacted by the crisis have led the way in advocating for justice. Parents whose own children died because of the opioid crisis have dedicated years of their lives to protect others. They demanded that lawbreakers be held accountable, failed systems be reformed, and urgent investments be made for harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and prevention.

State Attorneys General heard the calls for action and acted. Working together, across party lines and across the nation, our teams conducted a searching investigation of illegal conduct throughout the opioid industry. We filed lawsuits and won verdicts from judges and juries, forcing companies to pay tens of billions of dollars that will be dedicated to address the crisis.

An essential part of justice is exposing the truth. Our teams pursued that truth for years. Our efforts resulted in the public disclosure of millions of documents and of the critical facts revealed by witnesses ranging from drug sales reps to company presidents.

We rejected the companies’ attempts to keep the evidence sealed, or to hand it back to the perpetrators. Instead, we posted it online.

For the first time in a generation, since the landmark tobacco cases, an industry’s secrets are being turned over to the public. Under orders entered by courts throughout the nation, millions of opioid industry documents will be posted in a free public archive, in perpetuity.

The families who suffered in this crisis will be able to see for themselves the evidence that we uncovered – the company emails, board minutes, and business plans that changed so many lives.

Journalists, filmmakers, artists, and scholars will tell the story of this epidemic using the real words and actions of the people who drove the opioid business.

Policymakers throughout the country will be informed by what went wrong.

Executives, directors, and employees in every industry will know that, if they break the law and endanger the public, the whole world may see what they did.

Today is a step toward justice. We are grateful to the advocates who demanded action in the face of a devastating crisis, to our staff who work every day to serve the public, and to the archivists at the University of California San Francisco and Johns Hopkins who will preserve this evidence for the public good.

3 Responses

  1. I agree with both posts above. The fact is only 10% of the population is estimated to have an addictive personality. Without legal pain medicine, intractable pain patients have no quality of life. We are the ones hurt by this. The people who have this personality trait will always find a way to get drugs illegally, whether synthetic fentanyl illegally smuggled into this country or some other street drug. There has been a 40% decrease in opioid prescriptions in the past five years, yet overdose deaths continue to increase. We have doctors running pain clinics and trying to help their chronic pain patients and those patients taking their meds only as prescribed, and many of them have now lost their practices or are even in jail, thanks to the DEA. Why don’t they go after all the ILLEGAL flow of drugs into the US? Consequently most doctors are afraid to prescribe ANY painkillers, so you have people not being properly treated for post-surgical pain, sickle cell anemia, cancer pain or pain from any other chronic pain disease like CRPS, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, etc. But no one cares if we all get kidney damage from all the Tylenol they tell us to take!

  2. Again,,no matter what they ,”claim,” truth dictates,,no-one can feel the physical pain of another,,thus,,no-one has the right to decide who FORCIBLE suffers from physical pain due to a medical condition.When anyone denies effective physical pain relief,they are committing thee act of torture,ie,”to see what 1 can endure,” is torture by definitions..Again,,NO-ONE has the right to decide how much u or I should forcible suffer in treatable physical pain,,no-one,,maryw

  3. I understand the feelings of people that have lost loved ones by overdosing but these overdoses are more than likely brought on by illegal fentanyl and polypharmacy. With that said, some people like myself use opioids for intractable pain. Opioids should never be tried first for pain but if a person has tried multiple therapies with no relief, then opioids can be very useful medications. Without my meds, I would be couch-bound and have zero quality of life. With my medications my quality of life is much better and I can do things that I could not do without the meds.

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