AG Healey Announces Ongoing Multistate Investigation into Marketing and Sale of Opioids
BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office has been working with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the country in an ongoing investigation to evaluate whether manufacturers have engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing and sale of opioids.
“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that is claiming lives in our state and across the country, and we want to assure our residents that we are doing all that we can to combat it,” said AG Healey. “I am working with my colleagues in actively investigating whether manufacturers used illegal practices in the marketing and sale of opioids and worsened this deadly crisis.”
The coalition of attorneys general is using its investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony, to determine the appropriate course of action. Due to the nature of the ongoing investigation, the state attorneys general are not identifying any targets at this time.
AG Healey’s Office is on the executive committee that is leading the investigation.
Nationwide and in Massachusetts, opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. In 2015, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths across the country. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
In Massachusetts, opioid overdoses kill more than five people every day. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) estimates that more than 2,000 people – the highest number ever recorded in the state and a 17 percent increase from 2015 – died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016. Massachusetts has lost over 5,000 people to opioid overdoses in the last three years.
AG Healey’s leadership in this ongoing investigation is another way her office is working to address the addiction crisis in Massachusetts. Last month, AG Healey and the GE Foundation announced a $2 million public-private initiative, named Project Here, that will bring substance use prevention resources to students in every public middle school in Massachusetts to help address the opioid epidemic.
In May, the AG’s Office distributed $700,000 in settlement funding directly to school districts, nonprofits and community organizations to fund prevention programming through its Youth Opioid Prevention Grant Program.
AG Healey recently announced that her office is committing a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to a new Fentanyl Strike Force. In partnership with the Massachusetts State Police, the task force will target heroin and fentanyl traffickers and dismantle their distribution networks across Massachusetts. The funds will expand the AG’s Office’s own drug enforcement work – which has increased sixfold since 2015 – and to build enhanced partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement.
The AG’s Office also worked with the Legislature and DPH to create a state fund that allows our cities and towns to buy Narcan at a heavily discounted price, and is working to keep it as a resource for as long as it’s needed.
The AG’s Office continues to examine a host of other activities and practices that contribute to the opioid crisis, from criminal drug trafficking to barriers to substance use treatment.