SC Attorney General announces ongoing investigation into opioid - FOX Carolina 21

SC Attorney General announces ongoing investigation into opioid crisis

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FILE (FOX Carolina) FILE (FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Attorney General Alan Wilson is working with other attorneys general from across the country to investigate whether drug manufactures have "engaged in unlawful practices in marketing the sale of opioids." 

Wilson said the investigation is ongoing

"We're not pointing the finger at any one person in the distribution, our any one group, we're looking at this holistically and trying to determine the best way for South Carolina to attack and combat this epidemic to keep our citizens safe," he said.

The attorney general said the opioid problem has been going on for at least four decades and he and his staff want to see change. He said a consumer protection division is working to gather as much information from these manufactures and on down the line. 

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office said "Nationwide and in South Carolina, opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths.  Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999."

Executive director of Greenville Family Partnership, Carol Reeves, said lawmakers need to focus where the problem stemmed from originally, hone in on prevention tactics.

"We're not at the tip of the iceberg of what we're going to lose.. lives we're going to lose," Reeves said.

Reeves said we live in a world where there is a pill, a "fix," for almost everything. 

Wilson said they are looking to the manufactures for more information.

"Maybe they knew this drug was far more addictive than they let on and purposely withheld that information, there are all kinds of things that we have to look into to determine if in fact that is true, and if it is then we have to make a decision on how to make that individual accountable," he said.

Upstate doctors, like Dr. David Brancati from Emergency MD in Greenville said hospitals, Medicare and other medical establishments have pushed doctors to prescribe painkillers for quite some time.

"The Joint Commissioner who accredits hospitals, began to push pain control very heavily on physicians. Physicians at the time fought back and were concerned because pain is a subjective measure," Brancati said. 

This doctor said as a result, doctors started addressing patient's pain aggressively through these pills.

"Pain became what they call a fifth vital sign," according to Brancati.

Reeves said it's important to have lawmakers, law enforcement, drug experts and doctors discussing these issues together to get out ahead of the problem, while focusing the majority of their efforts on prevention.

"When they're making these decisions in Committee, don't do it in isolation," Reeves said. Have two of three of us in the room so that when we see them going down this road we can say, 'Whoa wait a minute." 

The Attorney General says right now this investigation consists of gathering information from people like this doctor and drug expert to make this state and the country a safer, and less addicted society. 

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