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November 14, 2017

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN URGES REPEAL OF FEDERAL LAW IN ORDER TO HOLD DRUG MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS ACCOUNTABLE FOR OPIOID OVERSUPPLY

Attorneys General Argue DEA Should be Able to Issue
Immediate Suspension Order

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with 43 other attorneys general, sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to repeal a 2016 federal law demanding registered drug manufacturers and distributors that have willfully contributed to the nation’s oversupply of opioids be held accountable.

The “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016” (P.L. 114-145) has severely limited the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) response to the opioid crisis. In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

In part, the letter reads:

“In the midst of this deepening public health crisis – at a time when our nation needs every available weapon at its disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act effectively strips the Drug Enforcement Administration of a mission critical tool, namely, the ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety. We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected and drug manufacturers and distributors may be held accountable for their actions.”

Madigan and attorneys general across the country are currently investigating several opioid manufacturers to determine whether the manufacturers have engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids and what role the companies may be playing in creating or prolonging the country’s opioid epidemic. In August 2016, Madigan filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics Inc. for deceptively marketing and selling Subsys, a highly addictive opioid drug, to physicians treating non-cancer patients for off-label uses like back and neck pain in an effort to rake in high profits. Madigan reached a settlement with Insys in August 2017 for nearly $4.5 million.

In addition, in September 2016, Madigan and 35 other attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction, over allegations that the companies engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors, forcing people to pay artificially high prices at a time when the companies reaped more than $3 billion in profits. Madigan’s office also provides training to medical professionals on identifying and treating patients with opioid addictions.

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