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May 21, 2018

Miller supports stiffer penalties for irresponsible opioid makers

Letter calls on Grassley, other senators to support legislation

DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined 38 state and territory attorneys general calling on congressional leaders to promptly pass measures to help hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic and stem diversion. 

“We have seen opioid manufacturers ignore their responsibilities,” the letter signed by Miller says.  “… The consequences of turning a blind eye to suspicious opioid orders cannot merely be a cost of doing business.”

 The bipartisan coalition sent a letter to chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Judiciary Committee — including Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa — urging them to pass the S.2456, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and S.2440, the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act.  

Opioid manufacturers have a duty to ensure that they take steps to prevent drugs from entering the illicit market. Among other provisions, CARA 2.0 and the CARES Act increase penalties on drug manufactures that fail to report suspicious transactions and maintain effective controls against diversion of their drugs to the illicit market. The bills would increase the civil penalty from $10,000 to $100,000 per violation for negligence in reporting suspicious activity and double the criminal penalty to $500,000 for companies that willfully disregard or knowingly fail to keep proper reporting systems or fail to report suspicious activity. 

As the letter notes, Purdue Pharma promised as part of a 2007 court order to create an abuse and diversion detection program to detect and report atypical prescribing patterns. Despite the order, Purdue has remained silent about suspicious prescribing activity it should have reported, including ignoring the warnings of their own sales representatives about particular physicians.

The letter is one part of Miller’s efforts to hold opioid manufacturers responsible for the public health crisis they helped create. In addition, the Iowa attorney general is playing a major role in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs.

In addition to Miller, the letter was signed by attorneys general from Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia and Washington.


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