The battle against opioid addiction in Wilmington and across the country is rising to a new level. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein came to the Port City to discuss the growing investigation into drug manufacturers.
The investigation is exploring whether companies may have misled doctors and patients about the addictive nature of legally-prescribed painkilling drugs. It will also look at distributors to determine whether they tried to play loose with the law by not reporting unusually large shipments.
“Tens of thousands of people suffer from opioid misuse disorder. Nearly four people die a day in North Carolina. It is the number one cause of accidental death in this state.”
Attorney General Josh Stein says he’s working with a bipartisan group of 41 other attorney generals in the probe.
“Our investigation will determine whether the drug manufacturers and drug wholesalers unlawfully created or fueled this crisis and if they did I will hold them accountable.”
“Drug addiction is an equal opportunity employer.”
That’s Jon David, Brunswick County’s district attorney and a Coastal Horizons board member. Coastal Horizons is a treatment center in Wilmington.
“What I think the community sometimes doesn’t understand is that is frequently the dynamic that sets up is that what ultimately spirals into addiction, even heroin use, started out innocently enough as a trip to the doctor’s office to seek medical help for an injury, a surgery, something of that sort.”
As was the case with a Coastal Horizons client named Daniel Giddeon.
“My name is Daniel Giddeon, and in America opioid addiction is a very serious matter.”
He’s been battling that addiction for eight years.
“You know this was a prescription, I was not breaking the law. This was something that my doctor said ‘this is okay for you to take’…. And as soon as the doctor knew I was addicted I was cut off.”
So he went out, and started buying heroin.
Again, Jon David.
“The economics of crime take over, heroin has become cheaper relative to prescription narcotics, and so unwittingly this problem has shifted into heroin use and addiction as well.”
Experts say this latest effort revolving around opioid addiction is much needed.
Kenny House is clinical director of Coastal Horizons, and says there are a number of things that community leaders need to do.
“And the attorney general is with other attorneys general around the country addressing the responsibility of the pharmaceutical companies and the distributors of some of these opioid prescription medications that have contributed to this crisis.”
The investigation is looking into Purdue Pharma, a company that several states have sued and accused of using deceptive marketing practices related to OxyContin.
The attorneys general are also investigating opioid manufacturers Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, and Allergan.
Learn more about Coastal Horizons here.