COLUMBIA, S.C. —South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Thursday that he’s working with attorneys general from a majority of other states to investigate drug manufacturers and whether they’ve engaged in unlawful trade practices in their marketing and sale of opioids. The states are investigating whether the manufacturers have played a role in creating or prolonging the opioid epidemic.
“From 2011 to 2015, there were nearly 3,300 deaths due to opioid overdoses,” Wilson says. “That’s an epidemic, in my opinion. So we know it’s a problem; we know what the problem is. The question is, what is the appropriate solution?”
He won’t identify which companies are being investigated.
He says an example of what could be a problem is, “A drug is created for this particular issue, but in order to get a larger market share the company tries to sell it for things it wasn’t originally created for, after they’ve discovered that is not a healthy option.”
One of the big questions concerning opioid manufacturers is, at what point did they know how addictive opioids are and did they downplay or ignore that when marketing the drugs to consumers?
Wilson says fighting the epidemic will take a combined effort from law enforcement, state lawmakers, doctors, and patients. He’d like to see lawmakers pass a law to require prescriptions to be done digitally, so doctors would no longer have prescription pads.
“It’s a program at the doctor’s office where they basically send a digital script directly to the pharmacy from the doctor’s office, and it would cut down on the forgeries and it would make it easier to track how the prescriptions are going and it would be easier to quantify. It would basically make the process more efficient and safer,” he says.