DETROIT, MI – As the opioid overdose rate continues to climb in Michigan, the Department of Attorney General today conducted a training session for assistant attorneys general and department investigators on the proper administration of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.
“Fighting the opioid abuse epidemic is more than filing charges against dealers and manufacturers, it’s getting help for those struggling with addiction,” said Schuette. “I am proud of the members of my team that took part in today’s training. We have a responsibility to help those in need, and knowing how to save the life of someone overdosing from an opioid-based drug is part of that responsibility.”
The training was held in the Department’s Detroit office and was attended by 27 assistant attorneys general and investigators and done in conjunction with the Detroit-Wayne County Mental Health Authority.
Schuette has been a strong voice in Michigan in the fight against opioid addiction and trafficking. In his time as Attorney General, Schuette has made reducing the availability of opioids and increasing the availability of high quality treatment a priority.
Most recently, Schuette was invited by President Trump to the White House to be present for the signing of the Health Emergency Declaration for opioids.
According to statistics from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 1,365 people died as a result of an opioid overdose in 2016, compared to 884 in 2015 and 426 in 2012, meaning Michigan’s overdose rate has tripled since 2012.
Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
Recently, Schuette joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 17 states as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands to call on more than a dozen health care companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services to implement programs to reduce prescription opioid abuse.
In September, Schuette joined a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general in an investigation of both the manufacturers and the distributors of prescription opioid drugs.
The attorneys general are actively investigating the following pharmaceutical manufacturers and their related entities:
- Endo International plc
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals
- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc.
- Allergan Inc.
- Purdue Pharma
The attorneys general are also seeking documents and information about distribution practices from the following medical prescription distribution companies, who together manage approximately 90 percent of the nation’s opioid distribution:
- Cardinal Health
The investigation is ongoing.
On October 4th, Schuette joined another bi-partisan coalition of Attorneys General asking Congress to change federal law to make treatment for opioid addiction more affordable and accessible. The coalition of Attorneys General sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives regarding HR 2938, the “Road to Recovery” Act, asking Congress to allow for Medicaid to pay for large, residential addiction treatment facilities, opening new avenues for addiction treatment while maintaining appropriate restrictions on mental health facilities.
A key part of the Department’s Criminal Division, Schuette’s Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit is comprised of four Assistant Attorneys General, each with extensive backgrounds in drug crime prosecution. The Unit is focusing on cases that cross both state and county lines, involve multiple major actors, and high volumes of heroin and other opioid-based drugs.
The Unit has already taken on nearly 50 cases, with multiple convictions and more than a dozen currently facing charges.
The cases have been and will continue to be charged in cooperation with local law enforcement, Michigan State Police narcotics teams and federal agencies. The Unit has also taken on felony murder cases in which it is alleged that the delivery of opioids has caused death.