TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today announced that Florida, as part of a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general, is demanding information from major manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The demands seek additional information about potentially unlawful practices in the distribution, marketing and sale of opioids. The demands are the result of an ongoing, coordinated multistate effort by 41 states. Florida is one of six states leading the widespread investigation.
“Florida citizens continue to become addicted to opioids and die daily—meanwhile, prescription drug manufacturers, distributors and the medical profession all point fingers at each other as the cause of this national crisis,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This far-reaching multistate investigation is designed to get the answers we need as quickly as possible. The industry must do the right thing. If they do not, we are prepared to litigate.”
Opioids are one of the main drivers of drug overdose deaths in Florida. Prescription opioids can cause death and addiction and, when abused, often lead to the use of illicit drugs such as heroin. In fact, prescription drugs, including those that contain opioids, are cited more often than illicit drugs as the cause of drug-related deaths in Florida. According to a recent report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in the first six months of 2016, 1,616 people died—440 more deaths than the first half of 2015—with at least one prescription drug in their system contributing to the deaths. In deaths where oxycodone was found, the prescription pain killer was determined to be the cause of death more than half the time.
The attorneys general served written requests for documents and information, known as civil investigative demands or subpoenas, on pharmaceutical manufacturers Endo, Teva/Cephalon, Janssen, Allergan and their related entities. They also served a supplemental civil investigative demand on Purdue Pharma. Additionally, the attorneys general sent letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, seeking documents pertaining to their opioid distribution business.
This is the latest enforcement action taken by Attorney General Bondi in response to the opioid crisis. Last year, Attorney General Bondi sued a pharmaceutical company for inflating the price of an opioid treatment drug. For more information about the legal action taken against the makers of Suboxone, click here.
Additionally, Attorney General Bondi Monday joined a separate coalition of attorneys general in asking the health insurance industry to examine policies to ensure they are not aiding in the national opioid crisis. The coalition of 37 attorneys general sent a letter to American’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s largest trade group, asking the group to do its part in combating the opioid epidemic.
“Insurance companies can play an important role in reducing opioid prescriptions and making it easier for patients to access other forms of pain management treatment. Indeed, simply asking providers to consider providing alternative treatments is impractical in the absence of a supporting incentive structure. All else being equal, providers will often favor those treatment options that are most likely to be compensated, either by the government, an insurance provider, or a patient paying out-of-pocket. Insurance companies thus are in a position to make a very positive impact in the way that providers treat patients with chronic pain,” reads the letter sent on behalf of the attorneys general by the National Association of Attorneys General.
To read the letter in its entirety, click here.