Attorney General Janet Mills urges repeal of a federal law in order to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for opioid oversupply

November 14, 2017


CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Telephone: (207) 626-8887

Attorney General Janet Mills urges repeal of a federal law in order to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for opioid oversupply

AUGUSTA ? Attorney General Janet Mills joined the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to repeal a 2016 federal law so as to hold drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the nation?s oversupply of pain killers (opioids).

?We are averaging a drug overdose death every day in Maine and the over prescription of these addictive opioids is one of the root causes of our current crisis,? said Mills. ?My office is fighting to hold the manufacturers and distributors who encouraged the overuse of these drugs accountable. The federal government must not tie our hands in this effort.?

The ?Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016? (P.L. 114-145) has severely limited the Drug Enforcement Administration?s (DEA) response to the opioid crisis. In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

Maine leads the nation in the rate of long-acting opioid prescriptions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 66.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 Maine residents in 2016. This number has slowly declined since 2011 when the rate reached a peak of 93.1. The CDC estimates 75 percent of patients that abuse heroin started with prescription medications.

In June AG Mills announced that she is working with a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the country in investigating the practices of manufacturers of opioids, including the role opioid manufacturers played in creating or prolonging the opioid epidemic.

Additionally, in September Mills joined a coalition of attorneys general from 37 states and territories urging America?s Health Insurance Plans to examine the financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maine and across the nation. The attorneys general noted that the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999. They encouraged the health insurance companies to pay for alternative pain therapies that may be more effective than opioid prescriptions.

?In the midst of this deepening public health crisis ? at a time when our nation needs every available weapon at its disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act effectively strips the Drug Enforcement Administration of a mission critical tool, namely, the ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety,? reads the NAAG letter sent yesterday to U.S. Senate and House of Representative leaders and signed by 44 attorneys general in the states, District of Columbia and Virgin Islands. ?We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected and drug manufacturers and distributors may be held accountable for their actions.?

Nationally the attorneys general have been combatting the opioid crisis on many fronts, including lawsuits, investigations and disruption of trafficking networks and pill mills.


Supporting documents

NAAG letter