Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his counterparts from six other states joined U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today as he announced new steps the Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic.
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Sessions praised Attorney General Paxton and his colleagues for their efforts. “Each of them has made combating opioid abuse a priority and has shown outstanding leadership,” he said.
The U.S. experienced a record 64,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2016. That same year, there were an estimated 1,375 opioid-related deaths across Texas, affecting communities and families in every region of the state. Attorney General Paxton told the story of a family friend whose life was shattered after she lost her 23-year-old son to an opioid overdose.
“I shouldn’t have to tell another story like this one, nor should anyone else,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The opioid crisis demands the attention of federal, state, local and private sector leaders. My office will continue to do everything it can to protect Texans from the opioid crisis.”
Last year, Attorney General Paxton and a bipartisan coalition of 40 other states served investigative subpoenas and additional requests on eight companies that manufacture or distribute highly addictive painkillers. The goal is to collect enough information so that the multi-state coalition can evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale and distribution of opioids.
In a recent announcement addressing the latest DOJ initiatives, Attorney General Sessions shared that a veteran federal prosecutor has been hired to lead anti-opioid efforts. With that, a new task force will target drug manufacturers and distributors whose overselling of prescription painkillers has contributed to an epidemic of fatal overdoses from opioids.