The Department of Justice will ramp up its investigations of opioid manufacturers and distributors and weigh in on a number of state lawsuits, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday, ahead of an “opioids summit” to be held at the White House later this week.

Sessions, in addition to announcing new staffing and the creation of a task force aimed at distributors and manufacturers, said the department will submit a statement of interest “in a lawsuit against a number of opioid manufacturers and distributors for allegedly using false, deceptive, and unfair marketing of opioid drugs.”

A long list of manufacturers, including Purdue, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Insys, Janssen, and Teva, have faced scrutiny and often aggressive legal action from state and local governments seeking compensation for what many plaintiffs allege are the costs resulting from the companies’ disingenuous marketing tactics.

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Sessions’ decision to add DOJ’s clout to the legal actions against manufacturers and distributors comes after a year of enforcement-side actions from the administration, including crackdowns on fentanyl importation and a broader crackdown on opioid dealer and distribution networks across the country.

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“The hard-working taxpayers of this country deserve to be compensated by those whose illegal activity contributed to those costs,” Sessions said. “And we will go to court to ensure that the American people receive the compensation they deserve.”

Sessions’ decision to enter the fray is particularly noteworthy in light of the withdrawal of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) as President Trump’s nominee for “drug czar.” Marino withdrew after reports revealed his role in legislating diminished enforcement powers for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

President Trump has still not nominated a new DEA director, and only recently nominated a replacement for Marino at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The news comes amid a wider flurry of activity on the opioid crisis. Sessions is attending a White House event on Thursday at which he and other administration officials will tout recent activity. Bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill have also allocated money in future budgets and unveiled an aggressive new bill aimed at addiction treatment and prevention.

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  • I am a chronic pain patient who use to suffer from severe, unrelenting pain from five autoimmune diseases. In 1999 I was prescribed opioid pain medications to help me deal with the intensity of pain these diseases cause. The medications decrease the pain enough to give me sufficient relief so I can enjoy my life. The fear these aggressive plans If implemented, will destroy any quality of life the pain medications have given me, and that you will take over and control the use of these medications and my life will return to the severity of pain I use to have. The senselessness of this move is rediculous! Are you saying the only ones that matter are the drug addicts who abuse the system, that we must protect them and no one else! Since I became sick in 1998, there were times before I was diagnosed and treated with pain medication, that I laid in bed crying out to God to end my life, because the pain consumed every thought and every bit of strength to stand dealing with it. I couldn’t find a position or a way to move to handle the severity, it was attacking every inch and nerve I had in my body in ways that seemed like living my life in the existence of hell. During that time I cried out to God to heal me or take me. Finally I found a physician who specialized in Autoimmune diseases that lived over 1200 miles away and I found away to see him. At last I was diagnosed and treated, but by then, too much time had passed and the medication that treated these diseases no longer could be used, and only pain medication was prescribed to control the pain. It was my only and last hope. Thankfully they helped and today because of them, I have a life I can enjoy. But your trying to take this away. You are recommending I try alternatives, of which I have done, and none have helped, or I was unable to tolerate. I am told your not listening to the advice of physicians; who are educated and have many years of experience with their patients, tell you how wrong this is! They state, your dening the rights of people to enjoy their lives without pain and taking their freedom away. It is wrong and senseless, that there’s only one solution to this problem! That your only responding to those people who are pushing to eliminate opioids! That you profess you know more and are forging forward to destroy the (only quality of life I’ve known), since I was treated with these medications. How can you think this is the right way to handle this? Please don’t take this move lightly, for some of us, we have no life without them and I am one of them! Last summer, my physician and I tried again, to change how I treated the pain I endure and switched to other medications and alternatives. I suffered greatly getting off opioids, the stress of it, caused my autoimmune diseases to advance farther and the alternatives didn’t work enough to give me any quality in my daily life. I was sick in bed all the time, so I switched back, and returned to the regime I was previously on. My doctor and I realized that this was the best way for me and no matter what study you through our way,the pain medication is the best way and is what works for me. That whole summer I spent in intense pain and no where to go for relief. I can’t imagine my life again suffering like that, because of people who have no idea what there pushing for and how their effecting others who’s outcome is different. My anger and fear is that this may come to pass, and I am pleading with you that this is not the only solution, there are others that MUST BE CONSIDERED!
    Janelle Dalstra

  • I’m no academic,so I can only speak pure simple english for what all this hyper sensationalim is doing to me. I have worked for over 50 years to have what little I do. I have had more surgeries and procedures done to my back than i can recall, all to no avail. I live in constant fear of losing everything and having to reside in assisted living, all because of the actions of others. Each procedure has left me worse than the one before. the only thing that allows me to function at all is a miniscule amount of oxycodone. Iam sick of the one size fits all mentality. when I hear our leaders talk about how other governments are cruel to their citizens, I want to puke!! Talk about hipprocricy!! I hate the stigma of being on disability. I have had my meds cut from where i could work (Which i love), to where it’s all I can do to take care of basic hygeine. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of suicide due to excruciating pain, but so what. Just one less check for big brother to write. Fake news at its best. Most od’s are from chronic patients not being able to have access to the meds they need and having to turn to the street. What the hell is wrong with all this hysteria? i’m sure our powers that be don’t do without and have access to whatever they need. They wouldn’t last 10 minutes with my pain. GO RICHARD LAWHERN. the only advocate we have. Don’t like it? Kill me now. At least I won’t be in AGONY!!!

  • I think we should have a nationwide prescription drug monitoring system for all controlled substance including marijuana that is now legal in several states. And the use of the system need the be mandatory each and everytime a prescription for these substance is issued. Not using it should carry a heavy penalty up to loss of license.

    • I do not disagree these meds need monitoring. I’ve lived in pain 18 yrs after rupturing my back in the same place 3 times plus more back surgery, a partial fusion, and neurostimulators. My issue is why no one seems to care about hurting my quality of life and others in the same boat. I know the CDC says treat each person individually and 90mg max is not set in stone so to speak. It was inferred that Medicare patients are taking the worst reduction, I did. Please tell me how is that just or fair. Who will pay for our care when we can no longer continue on alone due to meds that help being taken away from stable, non abusing patients?

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