Michigan joins other states in opioid investigation

Posted at 7:36 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 08:20:59-04

Michigan is joining dozens of other states demanding information from both the makers and distributors of prescription drugs.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and 40 other Attorneys General are pooling their resources to address the opioid epidemic. Their investigation involves at least five pharmaceutical manufacturers including Purdue Pharma, the maker of oxycontin.

Three distributors that manage nearly 90% of the nation's opioid distribution are also being investigated. Schuette says once the information they're seeking has been reviewed, legal action may follow. He says "highly addictive opioid drugs have destroyed families, robbed children of parents and robbed parents of children."

This is just the latest step in Schuette's ongoing work to address the opioid epidemic. In addition to the multi-state investigation, more than two dozen prescribers have also had their licenses suspended, as well as four dispensers. Two separate prescription forgery rings have also been successfully prosecuted.

Schuette's newly formed Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit has also seen success. It has already taken on 48 cases, with six individuals already convicted and 17 others currently facing charges. The unit is also taking on felony murder cases where the delivered opioids caused death.

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide and in Michigan. In 2015, Michigan saw its third consecutive year of increased drug overdose deaths with 1,981. Compare that to 1999 where just 455 deaths were reported.