By Jim Melwert


MONTGOMERY COUNTY (CBS) — Pennsylvania is now one of 41 states involved in an investigation into the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of prescription pain killers. State attorney general Josh Shapiro says, Monday a series of subpoenas went out to eight pharmaceutical companies.

Of those eight companies, subpoenas went out to five manufacturers of opioids, including the makers of Oxycontin and Percocet, and also three distributors who Shapiro says are responsible for putting out about 90 percent of the nation’s opioids.

Shapiro says he believes the drug companies:

“Put a desire for an insatiable profit over public health and public safety,” he said. “And perhaps over the law. And that’s what we will get to the bottom of.”

He says the investigation is one toll to fight the opioid crisis, which took 4,642 lives in Pennsylvania last year – 249 in Montgomery County alone.

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Shapiro says while there are other communities filing lawsuits against drug makers, he believes this one with 41 attorneys general sharing resources and cooperating across state lines is the one that has the legal authority to in his words, hold the pharmaceutical companies responsible.

These five companies have been identified to be the opioid manufacturers under investigation:

  • Endo International, maker of drugs like Opana and Percocet
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals, maker of opioids such as Duragesic, a fentanyl patch
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its US subsidiary Cephalon Inc., which manufactures many generic opioids and drugs such as Actiq, a fentanyl lollipop
  • Allergan Inc., maker of opioids like Kadian
  • Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin

Shapiro said the attorneys general are seeking documents and information about business practices from companies responsible for distributing nearly 90 percent of the nation’s opioids.

Additionally these three companies have also been identified as being opioid distributors that are also under investigation:

  • AmerisourceBergen
  • Cardinal Health
  • McKesson