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Donald Trump says government considering suing drug companies over opioid crisis

As White House announces new initiative to cut prescription fills by one third

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Monday 19 March 2018 21:33 GMT
Trump: Justice Department looking at bringing 'major litigation' against drug companies

Donald Trump has said the Department of Justice may sue pharmaceutical companies for their role in flooding communities with opioids.

“Our Department of Justice is looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies”, Mr Trump said during a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire laying out his plans to combat an addiction epidemic.

In suggesting he might wield the federal government’s law enforcement powers to punish companies for “over-prescribing” opioids, Mr Trump embraced an increasingly popular tactic.

Multiple communities in drug-ravaged West Virginia have sued drug manufacturers and distributors for funnelling pain pills into the state. A Charleston Gazette-Mail investigation found wholesalers had poured some 780m painkillers into the state as overdoses soared.

Similarly, New York City announced in January it was suing eight companies that make or distribute opioids, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying in a statement that “Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit”.

Mr Trump said a federal legal challenge would build on those efforts.

“Some states are already bringing it, but we’re thinking about bringing it at a very high, federal level”, the President said.sessions

Asked to elaborate on the President's remarks, the Department of Justice directed the Independent to a statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that promised to “aggressively prosecute drug traffickers” - including by seeking the death penalty for some, an idea Mr Trump has embraced - but made no mention of the pharmaceutical industry.

Ambulances attend to two individuals poisoned by opioid substance

As Mr Trump delivered his address in New Hampshire, the White House unveiled a plan to curb opioid use that includes efforts to reduce over-prescription. The framework sets a goal of reducing prescriptions fills by one-third over three years.

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