Josh RultenbergSep 20, 2017, 12:18 pmSep 21, 2017, 6:56 am

Attorney general of NY and other states join coalition to fight opioid crisis

Collaborative effort aims to ensure drug manufacturers and distributors are not engaged in unlawful marketing and distribution

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NEWBURGH — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is joining a bipartisan coalition of other attorney generals in announcing the expansion of a multi-state investigation into the opioid crisis.

Amerisourcebergen in Newburgh, along with two other opioid distribution companies, distribute 90 percent of the nation's prescribed opioids. Forty-one of the country's state attorney generals want to make sure they're following the rules.

Schneiderman called Tuesday’s announcement an unprecedented effort to get at the root of the nationwide opioid crisis.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of Americans using heroin reported misusing prescription opioids first.

"These numbers tell us something very powerful: Prescription opioids are the on-ramp to addiction," Schneiderman said Tuesday.

So the attorney generals from 41 states are demanding information. They are serving four opioid manufacturers and three distributors with subpoenas. They want to see if the companies are engaged in any unlawful practices in marketing and distribution of prescription opioids.

"There simply are too many prescriptions for too many opioids in America right now," Schneiderman said.

The number has tripled in the U.S. since 1999 and distributors alone make nearly $500 billion a year.

The epidemic is also being fought on the local level. Two months ago, Westchester Executive Robert Astorino announced a countywide opiate task force. In Rockland County, the nasal spray-injected Narcan, which quickly reverses the effects of opioids, is carried by school nurses, police and emergency responders.

Attorney General Schneiderman knows the epidemic is a systemic problem. He says catching bad guys is good but changing systems or conducts to make sure there are no more bad guys is better.

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