Spotlight: Opioid Abuse

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Opioid abuse is not limited to just street drugs like heroin, or only prescription drugs left in the bathroom cabinet. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is emerging as a new threat to our state’s safety and health. The Oregon DOJ and the Oregon Attorney General have been leaders in combating the opioid epidemic and holding those who are responsible for creating and fueling the crisis accountable. Oregon is involved in national multi-state actions against Purdue Pharma, the Sackler Family (owners of Purdue Pharma) and the various national opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Oregon’s Response

Most recently in 2021, Attorney General Rosenblum joined 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories in a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company. Oregon’s share of the settlement was $7.8 million. The settlement resolved allegations relating to McKinsey’s decades-long work guiding opioid companies in promoting their products and profiting from the opioid epidemic. This is the first multi-state settlement resulting in substantial payment to the states to address the national opioid epidemic.

In 2015, Oregon was the first state to take action against Insys, the maker of a sublingual fentanyl spray which was only approved to treat breakthrough cancer pain. Oregon alleged that Insys promoted the fentanyl spray to treat neck and back pain, and migraines – for which it was neither safe nor effective – and made improper payments to prescribers to promote sales. Oregon’s settlement required Insys to pay more than two times its total business in Oregon.

Attorney General Rosenblum dedicated money to the Oregon Coalition for Responsible Use of Meds (OrCRM) » and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) », and their work to combat opioid abuse in the state. The funding came from a $1.1 million settlement reached between the Oregon DOJ and Insys over the unlawful promotion of the powerful opioid Subsys. As part of the Insys settlement, in addition to changes in how Subsys can be promoted in Oregon, $567,000 was allocated to an organization identified by Attorney General Rosenblum to prevent opioid misuse.

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