Attorneys general from at least 20 states are opening a joint investigation into whether opioid manufacturers broke the law while marketing and selling their wares,
“I want to know whether drug companies, seeking higher profits, have recklessly and unlawfully pushed addictive opioids,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement. “We must hold drug companies accountable for their role in the epidemic levels of opioid overdoses and deaths in Illinois and around the country.”
“State attorneys general almost never announce the existence of investigations before they are completed, but the opioid crisis is a uniquely dire situation,” added Karl Racine, Washington D.C.’s attorney general, in statement of his own. D.C. is also participating in the investigation.
The coalition of attorneys general did not specify which companies they were examining.
If the attorneys general do end up filing a lawsuit, they’d join a growing wave of states, counties, and cities that are trying to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors responsible for allegedly spreading the opioid epidemic by downplaying the drugs’ risks. Within the last few weeks alone, Ohio’s attorney general, three Tennessee district attorneys, a New York county, and the city of Dayton, Ohio have all filed lawsuits accusing companies of worsening the epidemic. The state of Mississippi, counties in West Virginia and California, and the cities of Chicago and Everett, Washington have also all launched similar lawsuits. In April, the Cherokee Nation also sued six of the country’s top opioid manufacturers and distributors — the first such lawsuit to be filed in tribal court.