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Attorney General Coffman Announces the Expansion of the Investigation into Leading Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

DENVER- Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and a bipartisan coalition of 41 Attorneys General demanded documents yesterday from the nation’s leading opioid manufacturers and distributors, including information about their business practices related to the marketing, distribution and sale of opioids, as part of a national investigation into the causes of the opioid epidemic. The Attorneys General served investigative subpoenas on opioid manufacturers Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals/Cephalon, Inc., Allergan plc, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental subpoena on Purdue Pharma.  The Attorneys General also sent letters requesting documents and other information from the nation’s largest opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. Colorado is among the states leading the investigation of the manufacturers.


“The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on millions of families across the country, and Colorado has certainly not been immune to this crisis,” said Attorney General Coffman. “The scourge of opioid addiction has impacted every corner of our state. Our doctors, nurses, and first responders have been working tirelessly, oftentimes in dangerous circumstances, to save those battling addiction.  Our nonprofits and government agencies have been fighting an uphill battle to help those trapped in the cycle of addiction.  And our churches and schools have been shouldering a heavy burden helping to console, counsel, and educate those who’ve lost loved ones, including the children who have been orphaned or abandoned due to this to this deadly epidemic.”


“There is no magic bullet to solve this crisis, but I am committed to working with partners throughout Colorado and the country to find a solution.  This investigation is another step in a continuing effort by my office to help those impacted by opioid addiction and to hold accountable those who contributed to this epidemic in violation of Colorado law.”


Nationwide and in Colorado, opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths.  Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 33,000 deaths in 2016, including 300 deaths from prescribed opioids in Colorado.  Prior to the 1990s, opioids were rarely prescribed to treat pain, and now it is estimated that as many as 200 million opioid prescriptions are written each year in the U.S.  The Attorneys General are investigating whether any illegal conduct by the opioid manufacturers or distributors contributed to this surge in opioid prescriptions.


Attorney General Coffman chairs the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, which worked this year with multiple partners, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, to produce the groundbreaking Heroin in Colorado report.  The report was focused on examining the scope of the heroin crisis in Colorado and evaluating potential areas in need of critical response.  A copy of that report can be found at http://www.corxconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/Heroin-in-Colorado-FINAL-April-2017.pdf.


Attorney General Coffman has also lead the highly successful Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative, which is a statewide partnership to save lives with the opioid overdose reversal medication, Naloxone, by providing training and access to the medication to law enforcement agencies and first responders across Colorado.  To date, the program has reported more than 220 overdose reversals since January of 2017.  More information about the program can be found at https://coag.gov/press-room/press-releases/09-19-16.

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CONTACT
Annie Skinner
Colorado Attorney General’s Office
720-508-6553 or Annie.skinner@coag.gov