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US prosecutors open criminal probe of six drugs companies in opioid investigation

Published on 28/11/19 at 10:49am

Federal Prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York have subpoenaed five opioid manufactures.

The prosecutors are seeking to understand whether the drug companies violated the Federal Substances Act while not reporting signs that opioids were being used for nonmedical purposes.

The companies that were subpoenaed were: Johnson & Johnson, Teva, McKesson, Amneal, Mallinkrodt and AmerisourceBergen. The probe is in its early stages and more companies are likely to receive subpoenas in the coming months.

Two of these companies have already been involved in criminal proceedings with AmerisouceBergen and Teva being part of a $260 million settlement which averted the first federal opioid trial an hour before arguments were set to begin.

Tackling the opioid crisis is a stated priority of the Trump administration, and it declared the crisis a public health emergency in October 2017. However many feel he has not done enough. Dr Andrew Kolodny, the Co-Director for Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University said: “There are some positive signs but I don’t believe the Trump administration deserves credit for them. There is a lot more they and the FDA could be doing to promote more cautious prescribing and properly regulating opioid makers.”

The opioid crisis has been steadily ravaging America over the last two decades. Nearly 400,000 people have died, while millions still remain addicted. It has put a massive strain on local services and the total economic cost of the crisis could range from $50 billion to over $1 trillion.

Cities began filing the first lawsuits against drug companies in 2014. This number has risen to 2,500 separate lawsuits, with nearly every state also filing separate litigation as well.

Conor Kavanagh

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