PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed Pennsylvania’s participation in an investigation into the manufacturers of opioid painkillers and their role in the addiction crisis, telling Dom Giordano on Talk Radio 1210 that his approach in dealing with substance abuse is multi-faceted.
“To me, there’s a couple things that have been lacking in the past that we’re really focused on. Number one, holding those doctors and nurses and other prescribers accountable. So, we’ve doubled the number of arrests of docs in the first quarter of 2017 versus the first quarter of 2016 who are illegally prescribing or selling or giving away things like Percocet and Oxycontin and dangerous opioid painkillers. The second thing you’ve got to do is get at the root cause. Get at the supply chain. For so many people, that’s these opioid painkillers. I announced that Pennsylvania is one of the lead states in a massive, bi-partisan, multi-state investigation into opioid manufacturing industry.”
Shapiro expressed his concern about drug manufacturers are targeting specific communities that may be more susceptible to the perils of addiction.
“I am particularly troubled by the marketing and the production and the sales of these products. I want to make sure that it’s being done for reasonable purposes. There are a lot [people] who are dealing with chronic pain, who need to have access to these drugs. They’re very important and I don’t want to take away that access, but I do think we really have to question the way in which these pharmaceutical companies are marketing this product and how they are pushing it out there. When you look at particularly poor, rural communities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, some of those states, you’re seeing just a disproportionately large number of these opioid painkillers making their way into those communities. You have to ask yourself why and that’s fundamentally at the core of what we’re doing.”
He also stated that while the state continues to target street level drug transactions, this epidemic can not be resolved focusing only there.
“I’ve, obviously, been all over the state. I’ve seen towns ripped apart. I’ve seen the pain that has been caused by this crisis in families and communities. I think, heretofore, what’s, basically, law enforcement’s response has been is go out and arrest the dealers. We’ve done that and we’ve amped up our efforts to do that. In fact, I’ve been in office about six months, we’ve locked up, at least, three dealers a day every single day I’ve been in office, on average. It’s just an extraordinary number, but we recognize, I could do that for four or even, God willing, the next eight years and we wouldn’t solve the crisis.”