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Attorney General Sean Reyes’ 2017 Thanksgiving Message

November 23, 2017 — Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following Thanksgiving Day message:

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving shortly after a Union victory at Gettysburg. During one of our country’s most divided times, Lincoln was able to recognize the strength of our republic and the hand of divine providence as he called for healing and unity of a tired and depleted nation. 

Today, at a time when so many Americans are divided, there are heroic individuals working valiantly to make our state and country a better and safer place. Whether in the fight against human trafficking, opioid addictions, or crimes against children, it is these Utahns who quietly go about doing the work of angels that make me even more grateful to live in this state.

A few examples from the thousands in our state doing heroic work includes: Sgt. Elle Martin, who over decades has trained tens of thousands of emergency responders, law enforcement, and medical personnel; Sam and Dr. Jennifer Plumb, who have fought tirelessly to provide Naloxone to save lives from opioid overdoses. Then there is Victor Cox and the Americas Council, advocates who spend countless hours serving the Hispanic and other minority communities. 

Similarly, Tim Ballard, Operation Underground Railroad, and other modern-day abolitionists risk their lives to save innocent children from sex trafficking worldwide. I am thankful for Celeste Gleave’s SHEROES team that supports female crime victims and other vulnerable women. Clay Olsen and Fight the New Drug educate the world on the perils of pornography, including child exploitation. And artists like Geralyn Dreyfous, Jenny Mackenzie and Hale Center Theater Sandy performers educate through high-quality film, music, and drama. 

In my own office, Director Tracey Tabet leads a network of Children’s Justice Centers and hundreds of professionals trying to break the cycle of abuse for Utah families while Ruthie Pedregon overseas our victim advocacy efforts. Unsung heroes in the Utah AG Office do everything from taking down violent criminals, protecting land and natural resources to prosecuting non-payment of spousal or child support. 

I am also deeply grateful to servicemen and women who give so much in defense of our country; and to the many first responders—police officers and investigators, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, nurses, and rescue personnel—who are often the first to rush to the aid of fellow Utahns. Utah is rich with examples of sacrifice and giving by many selfless individuals.

And while this is a time for many of us to celebrate with family and friends, some among us are spending Thanksgiving alone—isolated by depression, addictions, homelessness, deployment, or other circumstances. I hope we are mindful of their situations and do everything we can to lift them to a less lonely place.


Op-ed: The disputed special election letter and the ethical path forward

In an op-ed published in the Deseret News, Attorney General Sean Reyes discussed the ethical problems around the draft-opinion on the CD 3 special election. 


Much attention has been focused on a draft legal opinion prepared by my office regarding Utah’s special elections process. Some of the related conjecture is true. Some of it merits clarification.

Despite attempts to characterize this as an open records issue, or a choice among political favorites, this has always been solely an issue of legal ethics. The core discussion is whether an attorney general can represent the state without being compelled to harm the very client he or she is bound by the constitution to defend.

Should the Legislature, the press and the public be able to examine the draft opinion? I believe so. When the credible threat of litigation has passed and our ability to defend our client is not compromised, releasing the opinion would be appropriate. To be clear, I would not release our communications or advice to the client without its consent. However, once ethical guidelines permit, we can comply with the original request from the Legislature clarifying its own special election duties.

Conflicting responsibilities

Let’s rewind to May of this year when Jason Chaffetz announced he would resign from Congress. At that point, the State faced an unprecedented situation. Governor Herbert felt that state law had already given the executive branch control of the nature and timing of a special election to replace the congressman. The governor and his team consulted with my office in making that determination. The Utah Legislature, consistent with advice from its own legal counsel, disagreed, feeling that the new situation required new legislation. Reasonable arguments could be made on either side. The Governor proceeded to set the terms of the election without calling a special legislative session. The Legislature indicated that it may seek legal redress. Other parties hinted at or openly threatened litigation based on the Governor’s chosen course as well.

Around this time, the Legislature requested my office prepare an opinion letter regarding duties of the Legislature in a special election. To comply with the tight timeframe of the request, attorneys in our office prepared a response while our executive team examined the propriety of the request. The request came through a seldom used law, the practice of which has become disfavored by courts and attorneys general around the country over the past decades. In Utah, only a handful of such opinions have been rendered over the past twenty years as they have no binding weight and often cause more confusion than clarity.

In the rare instances when such opinions are rendered, attorney general offices consider a number of practical and ethical factors before issuing one. No attorney general in the nation would issue an opinion where the request relates to current or threatened litigation. Another disqualifying factor, in many cases, is when separate branches of government are in conflict over the subject matter. In this instance, both disqualifiers were present and the prudent ethical course was to withhold the draft opinion despite having prepared one.

In addition, because the Legislature requested information so closely related to privileged advice already provided to the Governor, this created an added layer of concern. In fact, when my office consulted the State Bar Office of Professional Conduct, the director indicated that sending the opinion to the Legislature over the objection of our client, the Governor, could constitute a violation of our own ethical duties as lawyers. Our responsibility to respond to the Legislature could be viewed as directly in conflict with our duty to protect confidences of our client and could impact our ability to defend litigation brought against our client.

In normal situations, information requests from multiple agencies doesn’t create a problem. In this case, with the Legislature at odds with the Governor over a special election in process, the problem was unsolvable. Advising both on the same legal matter creates a conflict of interest, that neither the rules of professional conduct, legal precedent, nor state statutes can safely remedy or avoid. There was no ethical path forward.

The attorney general’s decision

My attorneys and I are public servants who have taken an oath to uphold the law and to do so in an ethical manner. Rather than place the office in an untenable ethical position, I made the conscious decision to honor our client’s wishes and do what any other ethical attorney general would do when disqualifying circumstances exist, and withhold the opinion. No one in the Governor’s office has seen the proposed opinion nor has any idea what it contains.

I’m confident my decision is the right one. We have worked diligently, for nearly four years, to restore public trust in this office. In the fog of conflicting standards, I was unwilling to risk an ethical mark on our record. Releasing the draft letter would put our office too close to the line of violating standards we have sworn to uphold.

If we made a mistake, it was in beginning to work on the opinion while the issue was still unresolved. On the other hand, as Attorney General I need to retain independence to exercise my lawful duties and had I deemed it proper, we wanted to have the opinion prepared as requested.

Seeking clarity

So where to from here? The bottom line is that we need precision in the law and rules regarding Utah’s independent Attorney General’s office. I plan to partner with stakeholders to provide the definitions needed so when this issue rises again, we have clear standards. We can achieve this clarity along four paths.

First, the Utah State Bar can clarify the standards that apply to the attorney general’s office as a unique law practice. This is already in process. My office has submitted the issue to the Bar and eagerly awaits their carefully considered recommendations.

Second, the Legislature can seek a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court or other action to clarify the duties of an independent Attorney General’s Office. I would welcome this action.

Third, we can work with our partners in the Legislature to address the issues through legislative action.

Fourth, the attorney general can continue to make decisions — as I have here — limited by conflicting rules, statutes and constitutional responsibilities. This is probably the least desirable option.

It’s worth noting that none of the core issues were addressed by the recent records committee decision, nor could they be. This issue is larger than curiosity about a single draft opinion. Someday, that letter will be released. I believe that day should be soon, after reasonable danger of litigation has passed.

In the meantime, let’s begin to resolve the larger issues that led to the impasse.


AG Sean Reyes Statement on on Veterans Day 2017

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement on Veterans Day 2017:

This month, as we focus on giving thanks, it is more than appropriate that at least one day is specifically dedicated to honoring our military men and women. Thank you to all who have served in uniform and who have sacrificed both on duty and upon returning home. Thank you to family members who have spent time and precious moments away from deployed loved ones. And our deepest thanks to each gold star family who has given the greatest sacrifice for our nation.  

We celebrate Veterans Day in the Attorney General’s office by remembering all who have served our country, including many of our own employees. Personally, I honor my own family members who fought in world wars, some who signed up for the draft during a time when even their loyalty to their country was in question. I also pay tribute to those modern-day veterans like my brother-in-law who served in the Middle East after the attacks on September 11.  

I am humbled each time I’m privileged to recognize a veteran with an award for his or her service and contribution to our community and country. Our office is dedicated to finding ways to serve our veteran community as a whole, recognizing that as a group, they are statistically one of our most vulnerable. We appreciate that their service has often affected them in ways that make them more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide.  

Far too many vets–over twenty a day–are lost nationwide to suicide. Some reports indicate we have lost more veterans of Middle East conflicts to suicide than to combat. In battle, we speak of leaving no one behind. In a return to civilian life, we leave far too many Vets behind. Additionally, a disproportionate number of Vets are homeless and lacking needed medical attention.  

I hope this Veterans day is a reminder that we, as a community, must re-focus on helping our service men and women overcome the challenges of job displacement and the hurdles of reintegration, offering healthcare, resources, and support for those who are too often fighting a different, internal battle at home.


Utah Attorney General's Office

A.G. Reyes Announces a $220 Million Multi-state Settlement with Deutsche Bank for Manipulating Interest Rate Benchmarks

LIBOR manipulation hurt government and not for profit counterparties

in Utah and across the country

SALT LAKE CITY  October 30, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes today announced a $220 million settlement with Deutsche Bank for fraudulent conduct involving the manipulation of LIBOR. This is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars and has a widespread impact on global markets and consumers.

“The fraudulent acts by Deutsche Bank hurt Utahns, cheating local non-profits and governmental bodies out of millions of dollars through fraudulent manipulation of interest rate benchmarks,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Any company that defrauds Utahns out of hard-earned money must be held to account.

“I appreciate the hard work by Ron Ockey, Antitrust Section Director, David Sonnenreich, Deputy Attorney General, and Edward Vasquez, Assistant Attorney General, and their team for their hard work on this settlement.”

The investigation, conducted by a working group of 43 State Attorneys General revealed that Deutsche Bank manipulated LIBOR in a number of ways.  Deutsche Bank employees improperly (a) made internal requests for LIBOR submissions to benefit Deutsche Bank’s trading positions; (b) attempted to influence other banks’ LIBOR submissions in a manner intended to benefit Deutsche Bank’s trading positions; and (c) received communications from inter-dealer brokers and external traders attempting to influence Deutsche Bank’s LIBOR submissions.  At times, Deutsche Bank LIBOR submitters and supervisors expressly acknowledged and indicated they would work to implement the requests they received.

Given this conduct, Deutsche Bank LIBOR submitters and management had strong reason to believe that Deutsche Bank’s and other banks’ LIBOR submissions did not reflect their true borrowing rates (as they were supposed to do pursuant to published guidelines) and that the LIBOR rates submitted by the banks did not reflect the actual borrowing costs of Deutsche Bank and other panel banks.

Deutsche Bank employees did not disclose these facts to the governmental and not-for-profit counterparties with whom Deutsche Bank executed LIBOR-referenced transactions even though these rates were material terms of the transactions.

Government entities and not-for-profit organizations in Utah and throughout the U.S., among others, were defrauded of millions of dollars when they entered into swaps and other investment instruments with Deutsche Bank without knowing that Deutsche Bank and other banks on the U.S. Dollar (USD)-LIBOR-setting panel were manipulating LIBOR.

Governmental and not-for-profit entities with LIBOR-linked swaps and other investment contracts with Deutsche Bank will be notified if they are eligible to receive a distribution from a settlement fund of $213.35 million.  The balance of the settlement fund will be used to pay costs and expenses of the investigation and for other uses consistent with state laws.

Deutsche Bank is the second of several USD-LIBOR-setting panel banks under investigation by the State Attorneys General to resolve the claims against it and has cooperated with the investigation.  The Utah Attorney General’s Office benefits from the information and evidence provided by corporations that timely cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigations. Such cooperation can facilitate civil enforcement efforts, including the distributions of funds for victims of the offense.

In addition to Utah, the states joining the  Deutsche Bank  settlement include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  The investigation into the conduct of several other USD LIBOR-setting panel banks is ongoing.

 

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Attorney General Recovers $1.6 Million for Medicaid in Dispute with Mylan Over Misclassification of Epi-Pen

SALT LAKE CITY October 27, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today that proceeds of a settlement with Mylan pharmaceutical have been delivered, and Utah has settled allegations against Mylan Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. (Mylan).  The settlement will resolve allegations that Mylan knowingly underpaid rebates owed to the Medicaid program for the drugs EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr.® (EpiPen) dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries.  Under the settlement which involved all fifty states and the federal government, Mylan agreed to pay $465 million to the United States and the States.  The States will share $213,936,000 of the total settlement.  As part of the settlement, Utah received a total of 1.6 million dollars which represents recovery for the state and federal government for expenditures to the Utah Medicaid program.

“The pharmaceutical industry produces many vital drugs and products for the benefit of our citizens, but like any other major industry, there need to be safeguards in place and rigorous enforcement of the law to assure that the taxpayers are being treated fairly under the regulations established by Congress,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Mylan Inc. is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  It manufactures, markets and sells pharmaceuticals through its wholly-owned subsidiaries.  Mylan Specialty is a Delaware limited partnership with its principal place of business in Morgantown, West Virginia.  Mylan Specialty owns the exclusive rights to sell EpiPen in the United States and possesses legal title to the New Drug Codes (“NDCs”) for EpiPen. 

The Medicaid Drug Rebate Statute was enacted by Congress in 1990 as a cost containment measure for Medicaid’s payment for outpatient drugs.  That statute requires participating pharmaceutical manufacturers or NDC holders, such as Mylan, to sign a Rebate Agreement with the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services as a precondition for obtaining Medicaid coverage for their drugs and to pay quarterly rebates to State Medicaid programs for drugs dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries.  NDC holders are required to provide information to CMS concerning their covered drugs.  In particular, they (Mylan) must advise CMS regarding the classification of a covered drug as an “innovator” or “noninnovator” drug, as the amount of rebates owed varies depending on the drug’s classification.  The amount of the rebate also depends on pricing information provided by the manufacturer.  For drugs classified as “innovator” drugs, NDC holders must report their “Best Price,” or the lowest price for which it sold a covered drug in a particular quarter. 

Specifically, this settlement resolves allegations that from July 29, 2010 to March 31, 2017, Mylan submitted false statements to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) that incorrectly classified EpiPen as a “noninnovator multiple source” drug, as opposed to a “single source” or “innovator multiple source” drug, as those terms are defined in the Rebate Statute and Rebate Agreement.  Mylan also did not report a Best Price to CMS for EpiPen, as that term is defined in the Rebate Statute and Agreement, which it was required to do for all “single source” and “innovator multiple source” drugs.  As a result, Mylan submitted or caused to be submitted false statements to CMS and/or the States relating to EpiPen for Medicaid rebate purposes, and underpaid its EpiPen rebates to the State Medicaid Programs.  

Mylan’s settlement with the United States also resolves allegations that Mylan Specialty overcharged certain entities (known as the “340B Covered Entities”) that participated in the 340B Drug Pricing Program, 42 U.S.C. § 256b.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Utah Department of Health worked with the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) Team who participated in the settlement negotiations with Mylan on behalf of the states.  Assistant Attorney General Robert Steed stated, “Mylan captured the attention of Congressional and local leaders of their price increases of the drug Epi Pen which is still a matter for review, but this settlement resolves a separate matter concerning the classification of the same drug for purposes of paying governments the correct rebate amount.”

 

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AG Reyes Updates White House Staff on Opioid Epidemic

President Trump declares opioid epidemic a national public health emergency

SALT LAKE CITY  October 26, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) announced today that Attorney General Sean Reyes met with White House officials and cabinet members to discuss efforts to combat the opioid epidemic killing Americans. President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, while a White House spokesman suggested that Congress allocate $45 billion for the fight against opioids. The number of drug overdoses in 2016 is expected to exceed 64,000 Americans, according to the White House. Utah has the 7th highest drug overdose rate in the nation.

“Over the last decade we have seen have seen the types of drugs sold on our streets become more potent and deadly,” said Attorney General Reyes.  “Today, what begins as a legitimate prescription for pain all too often becomes an addiction, leading users to steal additional opioids from the medicine cabinets of family. Worse, it can lead addicts to fill their craving with illicit black tar heroin or overdose and death. This epidemic—striking at our homes, our families, and our communities—is why we are taking aggressive action against drug traffickers.”

The White House’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency allows the government to redirect resources in various ways and to expand access to medical services in rural areas.

“This is a banner day,” Reyes said in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune after leaving the White House. “No matter whether you’re new to this issue or you’ve been like many of us fighting it for a long time, there’s nothing but good news in terms of it making people more aware, asking for more help and giving a broad mandate to federal agencies to make this a priority to open up resources to help us all in our individual states and communities.

“Having now an administrative mandate of presidential priority to push even further a number of initiatives, research, budgeting for this issue — it’s certainly not too late and if we don’t start to take it even more seriously and have more urgency, it’s only going to metastasize.”

Working with legislators, community activists, and medical community, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency, AG Reyes organized the Utah Opioid Task Force earlier this year to combat the opioid epidemic. The Utah Opioid Task Force is a voluntary task force made up of representatives from partner agencies and organizations across the state. The mission of the Task Force is to take action against opioid abuse through law enforcement, prosecution, proposed legislation, and innovation.

The collaborative process brings together leaders who are alarmed and seeking solutions. Most recently the task force has taken action to fight the opioid epidemic in several ways.

  • Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes co-authored a letter representing a coalition of 37 states and territories urging health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Utah.
  • Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that an investigation by a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general is seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether these businesses are engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. 
  • Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services encouraging the companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.
  • The Task Force called on to make available naloxone rescue kits, which are used solely as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose.  Additionally, legislators and medical community members of the task force are collaborating to forward legislation to address various aspects of the opioid epidemic.

Quick facts on the national and local opioid epidemic:

  • 6 Utahns die every week from opioid overdose, or 23 individuals a month
  • 80% of users of hard heroin start with prescription opioids.
  • Drug poisoning deaths have outpaced deaths due to firearms, falls, and motor vehicle crashes in Utah.

According to the White House, “There are several principal factors contributing to the current nationwide heroin crisis: the increased availability of heroin in the U.S. market, including the availability of purer forms of heroin that allow for non-intravenous use; its relatively low price; and some people who use controlled opioid prescription drugs for non-medical purposes transitioning to heroin use.  Heroin use has spread into suburban and rural communities and is growing among most socioeconomic classes, age groups, and races.  Furthermore, the emergence of clandestinely produced fentanyl and other high potency synthetic opioids in the illicit drug market is fueling the high mortality rate and compounding our country’s current opioid crisis.”

 

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Naloxone Rescue Kits

Utah Opioid Task Force Encourages Access to Naloxone Rescue Kits

Naloxone rescue kits are legal and save lives, says Opioid Task Force leaders

SALT LAKE CITY  October 26, 2017 – Upon receiving reports that naloxone rescue kits were being confiscated, the Utah Opioid Task Force reiterated the legality of the life-saving kits and encouraged first responders, healthcare workers, and others to be ready to use them to save lives. Naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan®) can be a life-saving medication and is used solely as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose.  Utah law permits any individual within the state of Utah to obtain, carry, furnish, and administer naloxone to anyone at risk of overdosing themselves or to anyone at risk of witnessing an overdose around them. 
 
“Utah laws permitting the use of naloxone were put in place to save lives, especially with the alarming number of Utahns dying of opioid overdoses. We are worried and concerned about recent reports that life-saving naloxone kits have been confiscated from those who can use them to save lives,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Anyone in possession of a naloxone kit has the ability to keep a victim alive until they can receive emergency medical aid.  The taking or confiscation of these rescue kits is rarely an appropriate action and could potentially result in a life lost.”
 
“The opioid crisis is devastating Utah and this country,” said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes. “Naloxone rescue kits may be the difference between life and death for someone’s family member, friend or loved one. In 2014 and 2016, the Utah Legislature passed laws that permits the dispensing of naloxone. Naloxone kits may provide a second chance for individuals struggling with an opioid addiction, assists in the battle of this horrific pandemic and helps combat the devastation that follows. As we are fighting this opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation, it is crucial this life-saving tool be readily available to those willing to carry and administer it.”

“The burgeoning heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across the state is claiming the lives of over 24 Utahn’s per month – the devastation and loss of human life experienced by families within our local communities is utterly overwhelming,” said DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser. “The DEA Salt Lake City District Office and Metro Narcotics Task Force highly encourage the personal appropriation and immediate availability of naloxone kits for Utah’s first responders, educators, and any private individual willing to carry and administer this life-saving drug. The robust availability of individual Naloxone kits will greatly assist law enforcement officers and medical professionals in combatting this vicious plague and the carnage it leaves behind.”
 
“Naloxone rescue kits across the state of Utah, in the hands of nonmedical laypeople, have been responsible for over 1,800 lives saved,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb, Medical Director of Utah Naloxone. “Carrying naloxone is an important and responsible strategy for anyone who knows individuals who may be at risk of an opiate overdose.”
 
While there are different forms of naloxone rescue kits available, the most widely available kit has an injectable form of naloxone.  This administration method requires individual naloxone in vials as well as syringes for administration of the medication. The only way to administer this form of naloxone is by using syringes.  It is essential that injectable naloxone be carried with syringes always.  These syringes are essential for the delivery of this life-saving medication and should not be viewed as paraphernalia.
 
Naloxone may now be obtained without a prescription throughout the state of Utah, via a standing order issued and signed by the Director of the Utah State Department of Health. There is not a prescription required to possess it or furnish it to another individual.  There are multiple agencies statewide who are actively supplying kits to community members to help them save lives around them.  These include EMS agencies, medical providers, the substance abuse recovery community, agencies that work with those experiencing homelessness, and the state’s largest healthcare organizations. 

The Utah Opioid Task Force was formed in early 2017 and is a voluntary task force made up of representatives from partner agencies and organizations across the state. The mission of the Task Force is to take action against opioid abuse through law enforcement, prosecution, proposed legislation, and innovation.

The Utah Opioid Task Force was organized by Attorney General Sean Reyes, Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, and includes representatives from the Utah State Senate, Utah House of Representatives, law enforcement, government agencies, and volunteer organizations.
 

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Take Back Day

Keep your Kids Safe and Dispose Unwanted Rx

The biannual Utah Take Back Day is this Saturday, October 28, 2017. From 10 AM to 2 PM, dispose of your unwanted and unused prescriptions at collection sites all over Utah. Last April, local law enforcement collected 17,364 pounds of prescriptions. When you do have expired or unwanted medicine, the take-back program is the safest way to dispose of all your unused prescriptions drugs. Protect your kids and keep your family safe.

Storing unwanted prescription drugs is potentially harmful to children and potentially a source of supply that fuels prescription drug abuse.

Help fight the opioid epidemic by getting rid of your old drugs. Take all of your unwanted medicines to a disposal site on Utah Take Back Day, Saturday, October 28th.

To find where your closest collection site is, visit utahtakeback.org

http://www.utahtakeback.org/collection.php

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Utah Attorney General

AG Sean Reyes Joins Bipartisan Letter Urging PBMs to Implement Opioid Mitigation Programs

SALT LAKE CITY October 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services encouraging the companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.

The attorneys general also sent a letter to the president and CEO of CVS Health Corporation applauding the company’s recent program that automatically enrolled all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients in an opioid abuse mitigation program.

“As Attorney General, I have seen far too much devastation to Utah families and communities from opioids. In our fight against this epidemic we have learned that all too often addiction starts with prescription medication,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. 

“I applaud pharmacies like CVS who are proactively implementing policies to lessen the likelihood of addiction by patients. We urge other companies to follow their lead. Limiting the duration and dosage of opioids, among other solutions, will likely decrease significantly the number of new addicts.

“Working with pharmacies is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force’s multi-layered approach with many stakeholders including manufacturers, prescribers, insurance companies, law enforcement & the recovery community to comprehensively address the opioid threat ravaging our nation.”

In their letters to the PBMs, the attorneys general asked that the companies adopt similar measures as CVS, including limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to the therapy, limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid, and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. The CVS program’s requirements are similar to the opioid prescribing guidelines recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The multistate PBM letters were sent to:

  • Argus Health Systems, Inc.
  • Benecard Servies LLC
  • Envision Pharmaceutical Services LLC
  • Envolve Health
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Humana, Inc.
  • Magellan Rx Management
  • MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.
  • Navitus Health Solutions LLC
  • OptumRX , Inc.
  • PerformRx
  • Prime Therapeutics, Inc.
  • ProCare Rx
  • RxAdvance
  • WellDyneRx

“While there are no doubt additional measures that pharmacy benefit managers could take to combat prescription opioid abuse, we believe over-prescribing of opioids could be curtailed by the implementation of a CVS-type program,” the attorneys general wrote.

“The opioid epidemic is the most pressing public health crisis our country faces,” the attorneys general wrote. “It affects every state and has a devastating impact on communities – tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. For our part, attorneys general are pooling resources and coordinating across party lines to address the crisis.”

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide. According to CDC, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. The Utah Department of Health reports in Utah 23 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses every month, and from 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths. From 2000 to 2015 Utah saw a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

In addition to AG Sean Reyes, those joining one or both of today’s letters include attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Please click here to view these letters.
https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Letters-to-CVS-and-PMBs.pdf

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EDITORS NOTES:

1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

2. For Utah specific data on prescription drug overdoses visit: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/

 


Utah Attorney General's Office

Resources for Utah Victims of the Harvest Music Festival Shooting in Las Vegas

SALT LAKE CITY October 11, 2017 – In the wake of the Harvest Music Festival Shooting, the Utah Attorney General’s Office announces that the City of Las Vegas is working towards finding all victims of the Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is offering everyone who was at the venue the opportunity to obtain counseling and victim compensation assistance in the wake of the tragedy.

If you attended the festival and are a Utah resident impacted by this tragedy, services such as counseling and victim compensation assistance are available to you. Please don’t hesistate to reach out to the resources listed below.

Please visit the victim assistance website—here—operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to navigate through the process of organizing counseling, receiving compensation, or retrieving your belongings.

https://www.fbi.gov/resources/victim-assistance/seeking-victim-information/assistance-for-victims-of-the-harvest-music-festival-shooting-in-las-vegas

Additionally, if you have lost any property you may have left behind, please complete the Victim Questionnaire.

https://forms.fbi.gov/seeking-victims-of-las-vegas-music-festival-shooting

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