Maura Healey Expands Opioid Manufacturer Investigation

She and 38 other attorneys general are looking into their sales and marketing tactics.

Photo via AP

Attorney General Maura Healey is expanding an investigation into dubious practices at major opioid manufacturers and distributors, in hopes of uncovering the truth about their possible role in creating or perpetuating the opioid crisis.

The investigation builds upon work that was first announced in June and involves a bipartisan group of attorneys general across the country. Using a variety of investigative tools, the group of 39 attorneys general seeks to determine whether manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Endo, Janssen, Teva, and Allergan drove profits by misrepresenting or withholding information about the habit-forming properties and potentially dangerous consequences of their drugs. On the distribution side, they’ll examine tracking and reporting practices at AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.

“We deserve to hear from these drug-makers what they knew about the addictive and deadly nature of opioid painkillers, and whether they misrepresented those risks in order to increase corporate profits,” Healey says in a statement. “We are expanding our investigation into opioid manufacturers and distributors to help uncover the roots of this deadly epidemic and protect American families and communities ravaged by this public health crisis.”

Initial investigations focused solely on Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of blockbuster painkiller OxyContin and the subject of a chilling and wide-ranging 2016 exposé by the Los Angeles Times. As Tuesday’s announcement makes clear, however, Healey and her fellow attorneys general have significantly broadened the scope of their probe.

It’s easy to see why Healey, who is spearheading several parts of the investigation, wants answers from drug companies. The opioid crisis has hit Massachusetts harder than many states, accounting for thousands of deaths in the last few years alone. In response, Healey’s office has helped to launch prevention programs in Boston public schools, crack down on heroin and fentanyl trafficking, and supply Massachusetts cities and towns with the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.