Attorney General Denn confirms intent to probe opioid companies

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Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn confirmed on Thursday that his office is participating in an investigation of makers of opioids.

His comments came in response to a Wall Street Journal article (paywall) that reported a national coalition of Attorneys General investigating whether manufacturers have engaged in unlawful or deceptive practices in the marketing and sale of opioids.

Delaware has a high dispensing rate for opiods. Pharmaceutical companies have long been criticized for producing a volume of the pain-killing drugs that according to far exceeds legal demand.

Among the companies mentioned in the Journal story is Endo, a pain pharmaceutical company that was spun off from DuPont and is now based in Ireland. The company has its U.S. headquarters in Malvern, PA and for many years operated a general office near the Delaware line off Route 202.

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Endo has seen its stock price fall from $94 in 2015 to today’s figure of $11 a share, with the FDA demanding that the company stop selling a pain drug, due to its risks. An Endo spokesperson said the company does not comment on litigation matters.

Denn announced that his office will issue an invitation to private law firms to submit competitive bids to be appointed as special counsel for the Department of Justice to conduct further investigation regarding opioid manufacturers for violation of Delaware state law in the sale and marketing of opioids. The detailed Request for Proposal requires that the work be done on a contingency fee basis that would not involve the use of state funds.

The national coalition of Attorneys General is examining what role manufacturers of opioid drugs may have played in creating or prolonging the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The coalition of Attorneys General is using its investigative tools, including subpoenas for documents and testimony, to determine the appropriate course of action. The national coalition of state Attorneys General is not disclosing the specific companies.

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