Four top drugmakers, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Allergan Inc. have been hit with subpoenas in an ongoing multi-state investigation into the nation’s alarming opioid drug epidemic, according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
The move marks a major escalation of the investigation by Attorneys General in 41 states.
The bipartisan coalition of state chief legal officers “addresses the most pressing public health crisis affecting the country,” according to Schneiderman.
“Too often, prescription opioids are the on-ramp to addiction for millions of Americans,” the attorney general said in a statement.
“We’re committed to getting to the bottom of a broken system that has fueled the epidemic and taken far too many lives,” he added.
Both manufacturers and distributors are being targeted.
The following pharmaceutical manufacturers and related entities were on the receiving end of subpoenas issued yesterday (Sept. 18):
• Endo International plc
• Janssen Pharmaceuticals
• Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc.
• Allergan Inc.
In addition, the joint investigation has served subpoenas on three companies that distribute 90 percent of the nation’s opioid drugs:
• Cardinal Health
Distributors alone make nearly $500 billion a year in revenue from opioid sales, according to the AG’s office.
The extent of the crisis is clearly manifest.
Opioids, both prescription and illegally produced, were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those deaths, 2,754 occurred in New York.
Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, according to the CDC.
The investigation is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Carol Hunt, Christopher Leung and Sara Mark of the Health Care Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lisa Landau and Counsel to the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Jay Speers.
Also involved are Special Assistant Attorneys General Kathryn Harris and Elizabeth Kappakas of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, under the supervision of Director Amy Held and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Paul J. Mahoney.