For Immediate Release
September 29, 2015
James T. Boffetti, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau
Attorney General to Investigate Pharmaceutical Companies for Opioid Marketing Practices
Attorney General Joseph A. Foster announces that his office has launched an investigation into the manner in which several pharmaceutical companies have marketed prescription opioids in New Hampshire.
The investigation was started after review of preliminary information indicated that drug companies may have deceptively minimized the risk of addiction from long-term use of narcotic painkillers and exaggerated their benefits for treating chronic pain. If supported, allegations of such fraudulent marketing could have misled doctors and patients and prevented them from making informed decisions about whether, when, and how to use these powerful drugs and might have caused the State to pay for potentially dangerous and unnecessary opioid prescriptions.
Attorney General Foster stated, "As is evident to medical professionals, law enforcement, and families across the State, we have an opioid crisis in which overprescribing of opioids has created a corresponding wave of abuse, diversion, and addiction, with tragic results for individual patients, their loved ones, and communities. The increased and widespread use, abuse, and misuse, of opioids has had a corresponding impact on the rise of the use of heroin, to which users turn when they can no longer obtain or afford prescription drugs. The cost in individual suffering and to health care and law enforcement has been, quite simply, overwhelming. We have a responsibility to understand and address its causes."
The Attorney General's office is involved in many aspects of the opioid crisis in New Hampshire and is currently working with a committee established by the Governor to present revised rules to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine with the goal of adopting protocols that all practitioners must follow when prescribing opioids.
Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:
"The growing heroin and opioid crisis is the most pressing public health and safety challenge facing our state, and it stems in part from the overuse, misuse, and abuse of addictive prescription opioids. As we work to improve provider training and to develop stronger, more explicit and more up-to-date rules on the prescribing of opioids, this investigation will help us better understand and combat the causes of the heroin and opioid crisis. I thank the Attorney General and the Department of Justice for launching this investigation, and I will continue to work with stakeholders at all levels to strengthen our ongoing efforts to address heroin and opioid abuse."
The Department of Justice has retained the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, which has substantial experience in this area, to assist in this investigation. Working under the direction of the Attorney General's Office, the law firm will bring needed additional resources to handle an investigation of this size.
Attorney General Foster further commented, "This office is committed to a full and fair investigation. At this stage, we have not reached any conclusions about whether there have been any violations that might merit enforcement action. We will follow the law and the facts, wherever they lead."
Individuals who have information that might assist this investigation – medical providers, patients, or others – are strongly encouraged to contact Senior Assistant Attorney General James T. Boffetti at 603-271-0302.