A group of state attorneys general have announced that they are jointly investigating the marketing and sales practices of drug companies that manufacture opioid painkillers, according to a Reuters report.

“We are looking into what role, if any, marketing and related practices might have played in the increasing prescription and use of these powerful and addictive drugs,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement.

Officials did not specify which companies were under investigation, but separate lawsuits by attorneys general in Ohio and Mississippi have targeted Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo Internationals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and Allergan.

In announcing his office’s lawsuit in May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the drug companies helped unleash the current opioid crisis by spending millions of dollars marketing and promoting such drugs as Purdue’s OxyContin (extended-release oxycodone).

The lawsuit said the drug companies disseminated misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids as part of a marketing scheme aimed at persuading doctors and patients that those drugs should be used for chronic rather than short-term pain.

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, killed more than 33,000 people in the United States in 2015, more than any year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: Reuters; June 15, 2017.

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