S.C. AG Leading Opioid Coalition

Alan Wilson taking on drug manufacturers

South Carolina Radio Network
May 22, 2018 - 2:40 pm

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, along with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson, led a bipartisan coalition of 39 state and territory attorneys general to call on congressional leaders to pass measures to help hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic and stem diversion. According to a release from his office Monday.

“Diversion of prescription opioids has devastated communities in our states,” said Wilson in the release. “The consequences of turning a blind eye to suspicious opioid order cannot merely be a cost of doing business.”

The coalition sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Judiciary Committee, the committees of jurisdiction, urging them to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act.

“It’s our way of sending a message that civil penalties, going from 10,000 to 100,000 and doubling the criminal penalties up from a quarter million to half-a-million dollars sends a message that the failure to report that type of suspicious activity is going to be taken extremely seriously,” Wilson said.

Opioid manufacturers have a duty to ensure that they take steps to prevent drugs from entering the illicit market. Among other provisions, CARA 2.0 and the CARES Act increase penalties on drug manufacturers that fail to report suspicious transactions and maintain effective controls against diversion of their drugs to the illicit market.

The bills would increase the civil penalty from $10,000 to $100,000 per violation for negligence in reporting suspicious activity and double the criminal penalty to $500,000 for companies that willfully disregard or knowingly fail to keep proper reporting systems or fail to report suspicious activity.

“They’re sometimes in the best place to see that activity occurring and so we want to underscore how important this is,” Wilson said.

Wilson made the comments at an event celebrating the opening of a drug disposal kiosk at a Columbia Walgreens Monday. He said there is no one element that can be targeted to stop the crisis.

“You can’t blame patients or doctors or distributors or retailers or manufacturers. You just can’t blame any one industry,” he said. “It’s kind of like the whole, systemically speaking, the whole global side of the opioid epidemic. It’s multi-faceted. It’s very complex.”

“We’re taking it very serious in South Carolina,” Wilson said. “We’re obviously involved in one lawsuit against a manufacturer. We’re obviously investigating all courses of action. But you can’t sue your way out of an epidemic. You can’t prosecute your way out of an epidemic. It’s going to require educating the general public.”

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