President Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring a “major lawsuit” against drug companies that “are really sending opioids at a level that it shouldn’t be happening.” More than 25 states have filed their own lawsuits, including New York this week. The president also wants a new federal probe into the spread of fentanyl.
President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue opioid makers, the latest move by his administration to combat the highly addictive painkillers linked to tens of thousands of U.S. deaths a year, reports the Wall Street Journal. In a cabinet meeting Thursday, Trump asked Sessions to bring a “major lawsuit” against drug companies that “are really sending opioids at a level that it shouldn’t be happening.” He wants a suit at the federal level, rather than joining existing litigation brought by states. Trump also charged Sessions with investigating fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, coming from China and Mexico, countries he said were “sending their garbage and killing our people.” The president added, “It’s almost a form of warfare. It’s a disgrace and we can stop it.”
Sessions said he would follow Trump’s request. He added the U.S. had “confronted” China about fentanyl. Trump earlier called for new steps to fight the opioid epidemic. They included pushing to reduce opioid prescriptions by a third over three years, asking the Justice Department to seek more death-penalty cases against drug traffickers, and expanding availability of overdose-reversal medication. DOJ already had asked to join settlement talks in a sprawling government litigation against makers and distributors of prescription painkillers. More than 25 states as well as municipalities and tribes have filed more than 1,000 lawsuits, claiming that aggressive marketing of prescription painkillers contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic. Drug makers have denied the allegations and said their marketing and sales practices are appropriate. New York this week became the latest state to file such a suit against Purdue, which makes OxyContin. A federal judge in Ohio overseeing hundreds of the local cases has pushed hard for a settlement and made it clear protracted litigation won’t help solve the crisis.