U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring a federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A majority of U.S. states and some municipalities and Native American tribes have pending legal cases against the manufacturers, in many cases accusing them of neglecting to warn patients of the drugs’ addictive potential. In April, the federal Justice Department requested to join their cases.
An independent federal case could have wider effects than state-by-state settlements or rulings.
Drug overdose deaths are making records in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. If the CDC counted accidental overdose deaths, estimated at around 72,000 in 2017, separately from other accidental deaths, overdoses would rank in the top ten causes of death in the U.S.
Purdue Pharma LP, a major manufacturer of opioids facing lawsuits over its marketing practices, said in a statement that it, “is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions.” Other companies facing lawsuits over opioid sales include Johnson & Johnson, Endo International, and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries.
Earlier this year, Trump asked the Justice Department to seek the death penalty in more drug trafficking cases.
For opioid users worried about becoming abusers, the U.S. has over 14,000 substance abuse treatment facilities and a national helpline operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.