Attorneys General seeking answers in opioid epidemic

On Tuesday it was announced that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes would join a large bi-partisan coalition of state attorneys general who are seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This means Utah will join in the effort of looking into unlawful practices in the marketing, sales and distribution of opioid-based painkillers.

On KVNU’s For the People program on Tuesday, Mark Steinagel, director of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, said the aim is to protect patients.

“The entire U.S. healthcare system is designed to protect patients. So we want to get the right treatments including medicines to people but there are many checkpoints along the way. The FDA is one of them, manufacturers and distributors are heavily regulated.

“What this really means today is we just have questions whether along this multi-faceted approach to solve this epidemic. We have questions whether the system failed us as these drugs were being developed and sold. We just have questions and we need to get to the bottom of that,” explained Steinagel.

He said the principle they are using as part of the investigation is “was the care and health of the patient always the driver or did it ever shift to another concern, financial or otherwise.”

He said it could involve taking action against over-prescribers or pharmacies that are acting unethically. Also, law enforcement and task forces have been trained.

Steinagel said the problem is tragic as hundreds of lives are lost in Utah every year due to opioid abuse.

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