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State AGs Expand Investigation of Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors; Ask Insurers to Review Payment, Coverage Terms

​A bipartisan group of 41 state attorneys general (AGs) are expanding their investigation of the role pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors have played in the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The AGs announced September 18 that subpoenas and document requests were sent to five pharmaceutical manufacturers and three distributors as part of a multistate investigation into the companies’ marketing, distribution, and sale of opioids.

The subpoenas were sent to manufacturers Endo International plc, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc.; and Allergan Inc. and distributors Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, which account for 90% of the nation’s opioid distribution. Colorado AG Cynthia Coffman indicated that a supplemental subpoena also was issued to Purdue Pharma.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the subpoenas “mark a major expansion of the investigations by the Attorneys General into the nationwide opioid epidemic.”

A day earlier, 37 state AGs signed a letter urging insurers to review their payment and coverage polices with an eye toward ensuring they incentivize health care providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management whenever possible.

“The opioid epidemic is the preeminent public health crisis of our time,” said the September 18 letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans President and Chief Executive Officer Marilyn Tavenner.

“The unnecessary over-p
rescription of opioid painkillers is a significant factor contributing to the problem,” the letter noted. “Insurance companies can play an important role in reducing opioid prescriptions and making it easier for patients to access other forms of pain management treatment,” the AGs urged.

Note: Appreciation is extended to the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) for preparing this news release.