Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced the creation of a opioid task force on the steps of the state Capitol on Thursday.
Carr formed the statewide task force after joining a nationwide coalition of attorney generals investigating whether drug manufacturers illegally marketed the drug. Nationally, overdoses caused by opiates have quadrupled since 1999.
Local organizations dealing with the opioid crisis have been uncoordinated, Carr said. He said that the task force will increase communication across law enforcement and other groups to create a unified front.
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Carr said that opioid addiction has become a national emergency. Every three months, he noted, opiates claim the same number of lives as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
More than 540 million legal prescriptions for opioids were written from June 2016 to May 2017. Carr said that number “raises eyebrows.”
The number of overdose deaths in Georgia has climbed steadily from 2013 and reached 776 last year, the highest number on record, according to GBI statistics.
Earlier this year, five people died and more than 30 people were hospitalized in middle and South Georgia after consuming counterfeit Percocet tablets. The pills actually contained a Fentanyl, a powerful synthethic opioid.