Georgia AG joins nationwide probe of opioid marketing

Norwich, Conn. - March 23, 2016: Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecedented opioid pain pill and heroin addiction epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before moving to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Credit: John Moore

Credit: John Moore

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office has joined a nationwide coalition of attorneys general investigating whether drug manufacturers have illegally marketed the sale of prescription painkillers.

Carr said his office’s Consumer Protection Unit is participating in the probe. Opioids were involved in the deaths of 33,091 people nationwide in 2015, and overdoses from them have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Carr’s office.

Between June of last year and May of this year, the total number of legal opioid doses prescribed to Georgia patients surpassed 541 million. Georgia is home to about 10.3 million residents. Fifty-five Georgia counties now have overdose rates higher than the national average.

“America’s biggest drug problem isn’t only on our streets, it is also in our medicine cabinets,” Carr said in a prepared statement. “We are losing far too many citizens as a result of drug overdoses.

“I am pledging to the residents of Georgia that our office is prepared to take every step necessary to help combat this epidemic, and we will continue to find ways to work with our federal, state and local partners to seek justice on behalf of the people of Georgia.”

Counterfeit pills made of fentanyl are linked to five deaths and 33 overdoses in Central Georgia.

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