Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his counterparts from a half dozen other states joined U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the next steps in the battle against opioid addiction.
Sessions announced the federal government will join Ohio and hundreds of other local and state governments suing the companies that make and distribute opioid drugs.
Those suits have been consolidated in the Cleveland courtroom of federal Judge Dan Polster, who is pressuring the DEA to release the full database of painkiller sales and distribution. Sessions said he wants the DEA to cooperate.
“We are looking at that very hard. I’ve instructed our attorneys in the last several days actually to make sure whatever we can produce for them – we know we can produce – let’s do it now. And if there are areas that need additional research before its revealed we should do that, we’ll get busy about it.”
DeWine praised Sessions for filing what’s called a “statement of interest” that accuses the drug companies of “false, deceptive, and unfair marketing of opioid drugs.” He also said Sessions has shown special interest in the spread of fentanyl, which DeWine said is largely responsible for the continuing escalation of Ohio’s overdose deaths.
DeWine joined Sessions and a half-dozen other state attorneys general in announcing the Justice Department's actions
“Thank you for your administration’s focus in regard to the manufacturers of these drugs. We now have 14 states that have filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturers and the fact that you have filed as a party of interest is, I think, a game changer.”
Sessions also announced he’s creating a prescription interdiction and litigation task force to target opioid manufacturers and distributors. He’s also appointing a former assistant U.S. attorney as director of opioid enforcement and prevention efforts.