Attorney General Janet Mills confirmed today that a bipartisan coalition of Attorneys General is demanding the production of additional documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opiods as part of multistate investigations into the nationwide opiod epidemic. These requests for information are part of the ongoing investigation by a large bipartisan group of the states’ chief law enforcement officers to determine whether manufacturers and distributors are engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale and distribution of opiods. Forty-one Attorneys General are participating in the investigation according to a press release from Andrew Roth-Wells, special assistant to the Attorney General.
Nationwide and in Maine, opiods – prescription and illicit – are the main-driver of substance abuse disorders and drug overdose deaths. Drug overdose deaths in Maine increased by 40% between 2015 and 2016. Last year saw 376 drug overdose deaths in Maine and there have been 185 confirmed drug overdose deaths in the first six months of 2017, or one overdose death a day. Opiod overdoses nationally have quadrupled since 1999 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In an effort to stem the tide of drug overdose deaths, Attorney General Mills has distributed Naloxone (Narcan) to 60 law enforcement agencies across the state over the last 15 months, with 255 successful applications. The Office of the Attorney General is now distributing Narcan to county jails as well since legislation went into effect in June of 2017 allowing this distribution.
The Attorneys General served investigative subpoenas for documents and information, also known as Civil Investigative Demands, on a variety of manufacturers and distributors and related entities to try to get to the bottom of the marketing and distribution practices.